Conference Champions Once More

Arkansas Tech University is the outright regular season champion of Great American Conference volleyball for the year 2017.

The nationally ninth-ranked Golden Suns (31-0 overall, 15-0 GAC) clinched the title by outlasting Harding University for a 27-25, 21-25, 25-15, 18-25, 20-18 victory at Rhodes-Reaves Field House in Searcy on Tuesday night.

It is the 13th regular season conference championship in Arkansas Tech volleyball history. The Golden Suns previously won Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference titles in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1987; Gulf South Conference West Division crowns in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2008 and 2010; and GAC championships in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

Harding came within the smallest margin possible of at least delaying Tech’s celebration.

The Lady Bisons (24-5, 12-3) earned three match points during the fifth and final set, but on each occasion the Golden Suns staved off defeat and kept their hopes of an undefeated regular season alive.

After battling back to an 18-18 tie, Arkansas Tech put away the match and the outright GAC championship behind an Allie Anderson kill and an Amanda Milnick service ace.

Milnick finished with 13 kills, 51 assists and 19 digs for her third triple-double of the season.

Lexie Johnston led the Suns’ attack with 21 kills, while Hunter Eshnaur notched 11 kills and 13 digs. Madison Nagel led Tech’s back row defense with 22 digs.

The Golden Suns will attempt to complete the first undefeated regular season in ATU volleyball history when they host Ouachita Baptist University for a 6 p.m. GAC match at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Thursday, Nov. 9. Admission will be free.