King left no doubt who was the top team in the ConfCarolinas en route to clinching a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
King held Barton to a conference season-low attack percentage and swept the ConfCarolinas Tournament finals 25-10, 25-21, 25-21 on Saturday in Bristol, Tennessee.
Both the Tornado and Bulldogs were the co-ConfCarolinas regular season champions and their only conference losses this season were against each other. In addition, it took the conference’s fourth tiebreaker rule for King to edge out Barton for the No. 1 seed and right to host the conference tournament semifinals and finals.
King out-hit Barton .287 to .036 to win its first ConfCarolinas championship, including holding the Bulldogs to a negative-.190 attack percentage in the opening game.
King finished with a season-high 13 blocks — eight more blocks than Barton.
All-conference middle attacker Jon Wheaton led all players with seven blocks. Setter Nick Drooker and outside attacker Adrian Besson each added five blocks against the Bulldogs.
Drooker and outside Jeff Sprayberry also had match-high two aces.
Sprayberry, the 2017 ConfCarolinas Player of the Year, had a match-high 14 kills on a .370 attack percentage. This was the second consecutive postseason match with double-digit kills for Sprayberry, who was named the ConfCarolinas Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Outside attacker Aleksa Brkovic in the loss led Barton with nine kills. Opposite Angelos Mandilaris, the 2018 ConfCarolinas Player of the Year, was limited to eight kills while hitting .065.
With this victory, King earns the ConfCarolinas automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. A ConfCarolinas team has not won a NCAA Tournament since the conference received its automatic bid in 2014.
2018 All-ConfCarolinas Tournament Team
Setter: Nick Drooker, King
Opposite: Kiel Bell, King
Outside attacker: Aleksa Brkovic, Barton
Outside attacker: Vasilis Mandilaris, Barton
Outside attacker: Liam Maxwell, Belmont Abbey
Libero: Josh Donahue, Mount Olive
ConfCarolinas Tournament Most Outstanding Player: Jeff Sprayberry, King