Furman claims final spot in semifinals with win over UNCG
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Furman Paladins, the No. 3 seed, swept the sixth-seeded UNCG Spartans, the host school, in the final match of the quarterfinals on Friday night in Fleming Gymnasium. With the win, Furman claims the final spot in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon. The Paladins will face off with No. 2 Samford at 4:30 p.m.
Furman’s win (29-27, 25-22, 25-17) puts the top four seeds in the semifinals as No. 1 ETSU swept No. 9 The Citadel, No. 2 Samford beat Chattanooga, and No. 4 Mercer beat No. 5 Wofford 3-0 earlier in the day.
In the first set, neither team led by more than a point until UNCG went up 18-16. The Spartans’ lead held until Furman tied it at 25 after senior Jamila Johnson got a kill on a pass from setter Hunter Thompson. The teams traded points and were tied again at 27 and 28 before back-to-back kills by senior Jordan McNeill gave Furman a 29-27 win and a 1-0 lead.
UNCG started out hot in the second set, jumping out to a 10-4 lead. Furman fought back to win the next five points behind strong serving from Johnson and two kills from McNeill. UNCG took a timeout to stop the rally, and it worked as Mikaela Weidmann threw down a kill to push the lead back to two. The teams continued to trade points but Furman began to pull away after a Spartan’s attack error that gave the Paladins’ a 19-16 lead. UNCG tied it at 21, but two kills by Johnson down the stretch sealed the 25-22 win and put Furman ahead two sets to none.
An attack error by UNCG’s Maria Esch gave Furman a 1-0 lead in the third set, and unlike the 21 ties and nine lead changes in the first two sets, the Paladins’ led the entirety of the third set. UNCG called a timeout after back-to-back attack errors by the Spartans’ gave Furman a 9-5 lead. Emily Keilen stopped the run with a kill out of the break, butt Johnson answered with a kill for the Paladins. Furman’s third set lead was as much as eight at 20-12. UNCG fought back to pull within five at 20-15, but Furman held steady for a 25-17 win and to finish off the 3-0 sweep.
The win avenges a 3-1 loss Furman suffered at UNCG in the final regular-season contest.
Seniors McNeil (12) and Johnson (11) led Furman in kills, while setter Hunter Thompson tallied 36 assists, a match high, and senior libero Meg DeMaar tied the match-high with 22 digs.
Holly Behrends led UNCG with 11 kills. Allison Penner and Giana Rasmussen split time at setter, both tallying 16 assists, and libero Mandy Garvens totaled 22 digs.
Samford earns spot in semifinals with 3-1 win
GREENSBORO, N.C. – No. 2 seed Samford claimed a spot in the SoCon Volleyball Championship semifinals with a 3-1 win over seventh seeded Chattanooga on Friday afternoon in Fleming Gymnasium. Samford improves to 17-14 on the season and will face the winner of No. 3 Furman and No. 6 UNCG. Chattanooga’s season ends at 10-20.
The opening set was tightly contested. Tied at 14, Samford rattled off four straight and jumped out to the largest lead of the set. The boost was all the Bulldogs needed as the Mocs didn’t pull within four the rest of the way and Samford won 25-19.
Chattanooga roared back in the second set. A kill by second team all-conference selection Dani Szczepanski put the Mocs on the board first. Up 3-2, Szczepanski went back to serve and, after an attack error by Samford and two kills by teammate Ally Ford, pushed the lead to 6-2. The Mocs won four of the next five points to go up 10-3, then stretched it to14-5 behind three kills from Gylian Finch, a member of the SoCon all-freshman team. Chattanooga, which led the entire set, hit .407 in the set, while holding Samford to -.071.
Set three featured 14 lead changes, with no team leading by more than two points until Samford took a 17-14 advantage. Kills for the Mocs by Szczepanski and Finch tied it at 18 and Samford called a timeout to regroup. The teams swapped points down the stretch but, leading by one 21-20, Samford got a kill from Shayla Phillip and forced an attack error to go up 23-20. The Bulldogs held on for 25-21 set win.
The tight contest continued to open the fourth set. However, with Chattanooga up 6-3, Samford railed off 12 straight points to take a commanding 15-6 lead. SoCon freshman of the year, Lauren Deaton, had three kills in the span. A kill by Finch stopped the run, but Samford answered with six more in a row to keep the Mocs at bay, eventually winning 25-11.
Each team had three in double-digit kills. Samford was led by Deaton with 13 kills and 14 digs. Kelsi Hobbs also had 13 kills while Phillip followed, hitting .524 with 11 kills and no errors on 21 swings. Szczepanski led the way for the Mocs, finishing with 14 kills. The middle blocker hit .619 with just one error on 21 attempts. Finch totaled 12 kills and Ally Ford had 11 in the loss.
2018 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship
Fleming Gymnasium ▪ Greensboro, N.C.
Friday, Nov. 16
Match 1: #9 The Citadel 3, #8 Western Carolina 1 (SDN/Roku)
Match 2: #4 Mercer 3, #5 Wofford 0 (SDN/Roku)
Match 3: #1 ETSU 3, #9 The Citadel 0 (SDN/Roku)
Match 4: #2 Samford 3, #7 Chattanooga 1 (SDN/Roku)
Match 5: #3 Furman 3, #6 UNCG 0 (SDN/Roku)
Saturday, Nov. 17
Match 6: #4 Mercer vs. #1 ETSU, 2 p.m. (SDN/Roku)
Match 7: #2 Samford vs. No. 3 Furman, 4:30 p.m. (SDN/Roku)
Sunday, Nov. 18
Match 8: Match 6 winner vs. Match 7 winner, 2 p.m. (ESPN+)