No. 3 Chattanooga Edges No. 2 UNCG in Five Sets
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The third-seeded Chattanooga Mocs edged second seed UNCG (23-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-19, 17-15) in the Southern Conference Volleyball Championship semifinals on Sunday afternoon at the Pete Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University. The Mocs, now 19-12 on the season, will take on No. 4 seed Samford on Monday, Nov. 21 in the championship final with the first serve scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT).
The Mocs saw four hitters reach double-digit kills and were led by sophomore outside hitter Miranda Elpers, who tallied 19. Kristy Wieser, the Mocs’ lone all-conference selection, racked up 17 kills, while Allie Davenport and Eden Murray finished with 12 and 11, respectively. Setters Madison Bergren and Lauren Greenspoon combined for 59 assists. Lindsey Farrell and Elpers combined for 48 digs to lead the Mocs’ defensive effort.
On the losing side, First Team All-SoCon selection Allison Penner did all she could for the Spartan offense, tying a season-high 60 assists in the five-set loss. Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Muench, also a first team all-conference honoree, connected on 18 kills out of 67 attacks. Redshirt-sophomore Jasmine Jones, who made the Second Team All-SoCon list, totaled a team-high 19 kills on 38 attempts with only five errors. Jessica Brezwyn also saw double-digits kills for UNCG with 10. Christina Gregory, the 2016 SoCon Libero of the Year, collected a match-high 32 digs to close out her sophomore campaign.
The first set was closely contested and saw 13 ties and seven lead changes. Chattanooga took a 15-11 lead midway through before the Spartans connected on five straight points to take a one-point lead before Mocs’ head coach Travis Filar called a timeout. The remainder of the first set was never separated by more than two points. Penner claimed all 14 Spartan assists, including a pass that setup senior outside hitter Jessica Brezwyn for a kill to notch the first frame in favor of UNCG, 25-23.
The Mocs, led by Davenport, jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the second set before a UNCG head coach Corey Carlin asked for a timeout. Once again, there were 13 ties and seven lead changes, but this time the Mocs came out on top. Davenport led all players in the second set with six kills on 13 attempts with no attack errors. Chattanooga rotated setters Lauren Greenspoon and Madison Bergren who notched five and six assists, respectively in the Mocs’ 25-19 second set victory.
Coming out of the break, the Spartans broke out to 13-10 lead before the Mocs fell victim for four straight Muench kills, three of which were assisted by Penner. UNCG extended its lead to nine points before the Mocs responded with four consecutive kills of their own, forcing the Spartans to call time out with the score at 21-16. Chattanooga trimmed Spartan lead from five to three, 22-19, to force another UNCG timeout. The Spartans responded, taking the three of the next six points and the third set, 25-22. Muench led all hitters in the third set with seven kills on 20 attempts with just one error.
In the fourth set, UNCG took an early 5-4 lead. Chattanooga responded by taking seven of the next eight points and the lead, 11-6, before a UNCG timeout. The Mocs maintained their lead throughout the rest of the frame. After two consecutive points by the Spartans to nudge the score to 24-19, Chattanooga head coach Travis Filar called timeout. With Penner behind the serving line, the Mocs successfully received Penner’s serve, which set up a kill by sophomore outside hitter Miranda Elpers to set the stage for a fifth set. Both Elpers and Jones tallied six kills in the fourth set.
The first half of the deciding fifth frame was all Chattanooga. After losing the first point, the Mocs responded by claiming seven straight points, three of which were kills by Elpers. After a UNCG timeout, the Spartans went on a tear, rallying off 12 of the next 15 points in their favor. With the Mocs trailing 13-10, Chattanooga needed two extra possessions to punch their ticket to the championship final.
The Mocs will face fourth-seeded and host Samford on Monday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. (CT), which will air on ESPN3. Samford won both regular-season contests by a margin of 3-0.
No. 4 Samford Blanks Top-Seeded ETSU
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The fourth-seeded Samford Bulldogs swept the top-seeded ETSU Buccaneers (25-21, 25-15, 25-16) in the Southern Conference Volleyball Championship semifinals on Sunday afternoon at the Pete Hanna Center on the campus of Samford University. The Bulldogs, now 20-13 on the season, will take on the winner of No. 2 seed UNCG and third-seeded Chattanooga on Monday, Nov. 21 in the in the championship final with the first serve scheduled for 6 p.m. (CT).
Senior outside hitter and First Team All-SoCon selection Erin Bognar led the host Bulldogs with a match-high 16 kills, 12 of which came in the first two frames. Bognar had a team-high 34 attacks with only four errors, giving her an efficient .353 hitting percentage. Redshirt-sophomore Kate Neisler also saw double-digit kills for the Bulldogs with 11 kills on 24 attempts and only three errors; she hit .333 in the three-set the Bulldogs’ victory.
On the losing side, First Team All-SoCon selection AJ Lux led ETSU with nine kills on 21 attempts. Briana Allmon, the 2016 SoCon Player of the Year, had 39 attacks, but only saw eight fall in favor for the Bucs. The Samford defense held the Flower Mound, Texas, native to a .000 hitting percentage and held all ETSU players to single-digit kills.
The Bulldogs opened the first frame of the day at the Pete Hanna Center with an 11-6 run to get the Samford fans on their feet early. Bognar recorded eight kills on 16 attacks with only two errors to give her a notable .375 hitting percentage. As a team, the Bulldogs hit .311 with 17 assists on its 18 team kills. Erika Pifer and Taylor Anderton combined for 14 of those 17 Samford assists. The Samford defense limited Allmon to five kills on 18 attempts and held the Bucs offense as a unit to a hitting percentage of .182. Samford closed out the first set by a margin of 25-21.
The second set saw much of the same with the Bulldogs easing their way into a 14-6 lead after scoring seven consecutive points with the score in favor of Samford, 7-6. ETSU head coach Lindsey Devine called timeout following the Bulldogs’ seven-point stretch. The Bucs responded with back-to-back points, but the deficit was too much to overcome as the Bulldogs went on to take the set, 25-15. The Bulldogs held the ETSU offense to a .088 hitting percentage with Allmon, Lux and Rylee Milhorn combining for 30 swings out of ETSU’s 34 total attacks. Through two sets played, Bognar and Neilser were in double-figures with 12 and 10 kills, respectively.
Coming out of the break, ETSU notched the first two points with a service ace by Allmon followed by block by freshman Kaela Massey and Milhorn. Both teams were neck-and-neck at the halfway mark with the score tied at 13-13. The Bulldogs went on a 7-1 run to take a 20-14 lead. Devine took her second and final timeout of the third set, but the Bucs could not find a rhythm, scoring just twice of the following seven possessions. The Bulldogs scored four unanswered to take the set and match, 25-16. A pass from Grace Tiesman to Gabbi Greenwald, who pummeled the ball into the ETSU zone, sent the Bulldogs to their second SoCon championship in three years, and third since 2011.
The Bulldogs will face the winner Sunday’s second semifinal contest, featuring second-seeded UNCG and third seed Chattanooga, on Monday at 6 p.m. (CT) on ESPN3.