College of Charleston 3, Samford 1
Davidson, N.C. - Behind the strong play of Darcy Dorton and Sloane White, College of Charleston defeated Samford, 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22) in a rematch of the 2011 SoCon Tournament Championship. The Cougars move on to face Furman in the championship match on Monday.
The Cougars (25-7, 14-2 SoCon) had four players record double-digit kills, with Dorton tallying a team-high 19 and adding 12 digs. White added 17 kills, while freshman Melissa Morello contributed 14 kills and 11 digs. Setter Taeler Davis dished out 59 assists as the Cougars hit .327 for the match, including .486 in the deciding set four.
Samford (23-9, 14-2 SoCon) was led by Michaela Reesor, who amassed 21 kills and 11 digs. Katie Murphy added 10 kills, while Lauren Hutchinson and Elizabeth Neisler each added four blocks. Setter Casey Garvey dished out 51 assists and senior libero Alexis Bauer tallied 15 digs.
The first set saw College of Charleston jump out to an early 9-4 lead, before Samford used a Hutchinson block to cut the Cougar lead to 9-7. The teams then traded points before College of Charleston went on a 7-3 run to take the set, 25-17. The Cougars out-hit the Bulldogs, .395-.209, and recorded 21 kills in the set, six each by White and Dorton.
Samford kept the second set close as the teams traded points but, with the score tied at 9, College of Charleston used a kill from Morello and some great defensive work to take a 12-9 lead. The Cougars never allowed the Bulldogs to get closer than three, taking the set, 25-19. The Cougars again out-hit the Bulldogs, .263-.163, in set two.
Samford took an early 7-2 lead in set three, thanks to three strong blocks by Neisler. College of Charleston then cut the lead to 7-4, before Bulldogs then went on a 9-3 run to pull out to a 16-7 lead. CofC then pulled to within four at 17-13 using two aces by Shelton and a kill by Neideffer. The Cougars then used solid hitting to tie the match at 22, then again at 23, before the Bulldogs used a kill and a CofC error to take the set, 25-23.
College of Charleston jumped out to a 6-4 lead in set one and, thanks to some key blocking from Koehler, pulled out to a 16-12 lead. The Cougars never allowed the Bulldogs to regain the lead and eventually took the set, 25-22, and the match, 3-1. Samford hit a blistering .500 in the set, but couldn't comeback from the early deficit.
College of Charleston moves on to face Furman in Monday's championship match on ESPN3.
Furman 3, Georgia Soutthern 2
Davidson, N.C. - Trailing two sets to none, Furman, No.3 South, rallied back to defeat the No.1 seed in the South, Georgia Southern, 3-2 (15-25, 13-25, 25-22, 29-27, 15-8). The Paladins used huge performances from seniors Chandler Ambrester (24 kills, 13 digs) and Natalie Braun (16 kills, 18 digs) to claim a spot in Monday's championship match.
Furman (24-9, 10-6 SoCon) had three players with double-digit kills: Ambrester, Braun and junior Christina Dorismond (15 kills). Libero Elle Ross added 28 digs, while setter Jo Wilks dished out 57 assists. The Paladins hit .211 as a team, including .450 in set five, after hitting just .021 in the first set of the match.
The Eagles (25-7, 15-1 SoCon) were led offensively by Kym Coley and Meredith Paskert, who each tallied 17 kills. Libero Alex Beecher added 31 digs and setter Kate Van Dyke dished out 52 assists.
Fueled by the offense of Paskert, Georgia Southern used an early run to jump out to a 10-4 lead over the Paladins. The teams then traded points before Georgia Southern forced a Furman timeout, leading 19-12. After the timeout, the Eagles then used a 6-2 run to close out the set, 25-15. Georgia Southern out-hit the Paladins .314-.021 in the set, and out-blocked Furman, 7-1.
Set two saw Georgia Southern capitalize on some Furman errors early and take a 7-3 lead. Later in the match, sparked by a kill from Curry, the Eagles rattled off six-consecutive points to take a 19-9 lead and eventually take the set, 25-13. Coley recorded a team-high four kills in the set, while the Eagles again held the Paladins to a below-.100 hitting percentage at .077.
Set three was much more competitive early. Georgia Southern build an 11-7 lead using Furman errors and a block by Coley, before the Paladins stormed back to take a 13-12 lead thanks to three kills by Dorismond. The teams then traded points before Georgia Southern used a Bellissimo ace to take a 20-18 lead. Furman then used kills by Braun and Dorismond to go on a 5-2 run to take the set from the Eagles. Furman hit .304 in the set and held Georgia Southern to a .195 hitting percentage.
Furman used solid hitting from Ambrester to take the early lead, 8-5 in set four. The teams then traded points before Furman took a 19-17 lead and forced a Georgia Southern timeout after a Braun ace. The teams then traded points until Furman took the set, 29-27, to force a fifth set. The Paladins hit .319 in the set, recorded 19 kills, while the Eagles hit .216, recording 18 kills.
In the final set, Furman used kills from Adams and Ambrester to take and early 5-1 lead, forcing a Georgia Southern timeout. The Eagles used two kills from Paskert to cut the Paladins' lead to 5-3, but Furman used two kills from Ambrester and an ace from Wilks to take an 8-4 lead at the switch. The Paladins then used kills from Dorsimond and Braun to take the set, 15-8, and the match, 3-2.
The Paladins will face the winner of the College of Charleston/Samford semifinal match in tomorrow's 6:00 p.m. championship match, which can be seen on ESPN3.