With freshman Nicole Sumida, the tournament MVP, leading the way, Lee dropped the first set 30-32. Coach Andrea Hudson's club bounced back and won the next two sets in convincing style, 25-14, 25-19. But the Badgers would not go down without a tremendous fight. The Alabama club won set four, 23-25, before the Lady Flames were able to claim the championship with a 15-12 win in the short set.
"I'm really proud of our girls," said coach Hudson. "I believe this is the hardest we have played all season and we did it against a very good volleyball team. They knew how important this match was toward our goal of advancing to the national tournament once again."
Sumida drilled 18 kills and finished with a .455 attack percentage. She also contributed six digs and three blocks. No less than five Lady Flames produced double-figure kills. Paula Martins had a .400 hitting mark and registered 17 kills to go along with five digs and three blocks. Lauren Williams continued to perform well and had 11 slams (.526 attack percentage). She also had three blocks.
Veteran performer Irene Ojukwu was not about to be outdone. She produced her usual double-double, 12 kills and 17 digs, while Marija Zelenovic went to the net for 15 kills, 10 digs and four blocks.
Camil Martinez dished off 60 big assists and joined a list of Lady Flames with a double-double after coming up with 15 digs and also contributing six kills. Libby Peigen helped keep the Lady Flames victory alive with 23 digs.
The Lady Flames improved to 27-9 on the year and Spring Hill dropped to 30-5.
Lee 3, Loyola (La.) 0
In an earlier semifinal match on Saturday, the Lady Flames had a much easier time in downing Loyola University 3-0 (25-23, 25-14, 25-23).
Ojukwu was the kill leader with 14, while Martins and Sumida added 11 apiece. Sumida stunned the Loyola club with five service aces and five blocks. Martinez collected 39 assists and Zelenovic had eight kills. Peigen notched 20 digs and Ojukwu garnered 10 digs. Martins and Williams also carded five blocks apiece.
Ojukwu named SSAC
Player of the Year
MONTGOMERY,Ala. — Junior Irene Ojukwu was named Southern States Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Year, the organization announced Friday evening at the annual awards banquet.
The Sao Paulo, Brazil, native was instrumental in guiding the Lady Flames to a 24-9 regular season mark against some of the toughest competition in the NAIA.
Lee went 13-1 in conference play and is currently ranked ninth in the latest NAIA poll.
Junior Paula Martins was honored as Newcomer of the Year. The transfer from Northern State (S.D.) made an immediate impact in her first year as a Lady Flame.
Nicole Sumida garnered Freshman of the Year honors. Sumida played at Baylor High School last year and didn't miss a beat in her first year of collegiate action. The Hixson native was also named to the All-Freshman team.
Ojukwu, Martins, sophomore Marija Zelenovic and junior Camil Martinez were named first team all-conference.
Junior Libby Peigen joined Sumida as Lee's 2nd team all-conference representatives.
Senior Courtney Wilson was named to the Champions of Character Team.
Earning All-Academic Team honors from the Lady Flames were Becky Bourne, Kalyn Helton, Paula Martins, Patty Orozco and Lauren Williams.