CULLOWHEE, N.C. – Second-seeded Furman earned the 2015 Southern Conference volleyball title on Monday night, sweeping top-seeded Chattanooga (25-16, 25-20, 27-25) at the Ramsey Center on the campus of Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C. With the win, the Paladins earned the program’s third conference title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
Junior outside hitter Allie Davenport racked up 17 kills on the losing side, and senior outside hitter Briana Reid posted 10 kills for UTC. The Mocs were stymied most of the night, however, hitting just .179.
Furman came out the gate quickly, running off the first five points of the match to force a timeout from UTC coach Travis Filar. The Paladins’ opening spurt featured kills from Bohlander, Bierman and Johnson. A kill from Davenport out of the break got UTC on the board, but the Mocs never found the range, hitting .094 for the set. Furman ultimately used a 7-3 charge to take the opening frame in wire-to-wire fashion, 25-16. Bierman put down four kills in the set and added four digs to break the 1,000-dig plateau for her career.
Both teams exchanged points to open the second set, but Furman eventually seized an 11-8 advantage with a 3-0 run that included kills from Bohlander and Johnson. UTC countered, though, with a 4-0 surge capped by a Davenport kill to take the lead at 12-11. The two teams went back-and-forth again before the Paladins ran off five consecutive points behind three Bierman kills to gain a 19-14 lead. The Mocs put forth a final run trailing 23-17 with kills from Davenport and senior middle blocker Lauren Gainer, but a kill by Furman freshman Carris Campbell followed by a UTC attack error gave the second set to the Paladins, 25-20.
UTC’s Briana Reid took over the third set for the Mocs, tallying five kills and a block to help her team to an early 13-11 lead. A kill from Davenport kept UTC ahead, 14-12, but consecutive kills from Campbell and Bierman brought the Paladins back. From there, the Mocs were able to fend off multiple Furman runs to edge out to a 22-19 lead. The Paladins bounced back with kills from Bohlander and Bierman and were able to claw back even at 22-all.
The teams then traded the next series of points, and the Paladins were able to fight off a set point for the Mocs courtesy another kill from Bierman. The next two points – and the SoCon title – belonged to Furman. Campbell and Wilks propelled the Paladins to a 26-25 advantage with a block, and an attack error from UTC had the Paladins celebrating their first SoCon crown since 2008.
Bierman, Wilks and sophomore libero Meg DeMaar were named to the all-tournament team. They were joined by Davenport and Reid from UTC, in addition to ETSU junior Kristen Favre and UNCG senior Katherine Santiago.
Wilks was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Furman will now await its seed in the NCAA tournament. The NCAA selection show is scheduled for Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
2015 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship
Ramsey Center ▪ Cullowhee, N.C.
Saturday, Nov. 21
Match 1: No. 8 Western Carolina 3, No. 9 The Citadel 1
Match 2: No. 5 ETSU 3, No. 4 Samford 2
Match 3: No. 1 Chattanooga 3, No. 8 Western Carolina 0
Match 4: No. 2 Furman 3, No. 7 Mercer 1
Match 5: No. 3 UNCG 3, No. 6 Wofford 1
Sunday, Nov. 22
Match 6: No. 1 Chattanooga 3, No. 5 ETSU 1
Match 7: No. 2 Furman 3, No. 3 UNCG 0
Monday, Nov. 23
Match 8: No. 2 Furman 3, No. 1 Chattanooga 0
Annie Bierman, Furman
Meg DeMaar, Furman
Jo Wilks, Furman
Kristen Favre, ETSU
Katherine Santiago, UNCG
Allie Davenport, Chattanooga
Briana Reid, Chattanooga
Most Outstanding Player
Jo Wilks, Furman