Volleyball Southern Conference

Mercer, ETSU set to clash in semifinals

ETSU sweeps The Citadel, advances to semifinals 

GREENSBORO, N.C. – In the third match of the day, the ETSU Bucs, the top seed in the tournament, swept The Citadel, the No. 9 seed. The Bucs won the match 25-19, 25-12, 25-22 and advance to play No. 4 Mercer in the semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Citadel’s season ends after the Bulldogs earned a win over No 8 seed Western Carolina in the morning’s first round matchup, their first ever win in SoCon tournament play.

The match was evenly matched to begin. Tied at 18, ETSU began to pull away. Bucs’ setter Alyssa Kvarta picked up a kill before an attack error by the Bulldogs made it 20-18. ETSU scored three more before a service error by Marija Popovic, the SoCon libero of the year, stopped the rally. AJ Lux answered with a kill, her sixth of the set, and the Bucs’ defense forced an attack error to finish off the set 25-19.  

The second set was all Bucs. ETSU scored the first four points and used the hot start to push the lead to 10-3. The Citadel couldn’t claw back from the opening deficit and the Bucs’ cruised to a 25-12 win and went up 2-0 in the match.

The Citadel regrouped and jumped out to a 4-0 lead to start the third set. The Bulldogs stretched the lead to 6-1 and forced an ETSU timeout. The Bucs clawed back in and tied it at 10. All knotted at 12, Kvarta served ETSU to three straight points and helped the Bucs to a 15-12 lead. Sharlissa De Jesus, a second team all-conference pick, had back-to-back aces that helped The Citadel tie it again at 18, but ETSU outscored The Citadel 7-2 down to the stretch to win the set 25-22 and seal the deal on the 3-0 win, the fourth consecutive sweep for the Bucs.

Lux, a senior outside hitter, led ETSU with 18 kills. She hit .471 with just two errors on 34 swings. The SoCon Player of the Year, Leah Clayton, was right behind with 15 kills and a .306 percentage. Clayton, a junior, added 14 digs to earn a double-double. Popovic added a match-high 23 digs to lead the effort from the back row.

Mellanie King led The Citadel with eight kills and nine digs.

Bears advance to semis with 3-1 win over Wofford

GREENSBORO, N.C. In Friday’s second match of the 2018 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship, No. 4 seed Mercer swept No. 5 seed Wofford 25-18, 25-18, 25-15 to advance to the semifinals on Saturday. The win was the Bears’ first in tournament history. Wofford’s season ends at 14-16, while the Bears will face the winner of The Citadel and top-seed ETSU.

Mercer got on the board first with a kill by Roberta Todd. The teams traded points until a block by SoCon all-freshman selection Annie Karle and Alexia Morey put the Bears up 9-5. Wofford tied it at 10 off a kill from first-team all-conference member Catie Cronister, but Mercer scored the next two to get momentum back. Tied at 14, Mercer scored three straight points behind the serve of Todd but Wofford rallied back to tie it at 18. A service error by Cronister and two attack errors by the Terriers put Mercer back in front 21-18 and forced a Wofford timeout. Out of the break, Brittany Major, an all-freshman selection, rallied off three kills to give the Bears set point before an attack error by Wofford sealed the 25-18 set win.

The second set was much of the same, with neither team leading by more than two to start. Tied at 10, Mercer scored three straight points and Wofford took a timeout. Wofford tied it at 14, but then the Bears took over and scored five straight on a kill by Todd, an attack error by Wofford, two aces from Todd and a kill from Karle. The lead was too much for the Terriers to overcome and Mercer won the set 25-18.

Mercer took a 2-0 lead to begin the third set, but Wofford tied it up seven times before a kill by first-team all-conference selection Paige Alsten put the Bears ahead 11-10. Mercer scored six of the next eight points to push the lead to 17-12. An attack error by Mercer stopped the run, but a service error by Cronister and an attack error by Kara Shacklette made it 19-13. Wofford head coach Lynze Roos used her second timeout, but Mercer finished strong down the stretch, scoring six of the next eight to clinch the match.

Mercer had four players with eight-plus kills, led by Major with 11. The outside hitter hit .450 to lead the Bears. Todd had nine kills, seven digs and five service aces, while Alsten had eight kills and three blocks. Karle also had eight kills in the win.

Redshirt senior Alex Holland led Wofford with eight kills and just one error on 14 swings. Lorissa King had a team-high 13 assists, while senior libero Taylor Gill led the Terriers with 11 digs.

Mercer will now await the winner of the game between ETSU and No. 9 seed The Citadel to determine who it will face on Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Citadel earns first SoCon tournament win, 3-1

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Ninth-seeded The Citadel downed No. 8 seed Western Carolina 3-1 in Friday’s first match at the Southern Conference Volleyball Championship for its first-ever win in the tournament. The Bulldogs advance to face No. 1 seed ETSU at 2:30 p.m.

In the first set, The Citadel got on the board first on a Western Carolina attack error. The Catamounts tied it at 1 and then again at 2, but Sharlissa De Jesus served the Bulldogs to five straight points and a 7-2 lead. Western Carolina tied it at 10 and would only trail once, 13-12, and led by as many as five before putting the set away 25-20 and taking a 1-0 lead. 

In the second set, Western Carolina jumped out to a 4-0 lead and led by as many as six before The Citadel rallied back to tie it at 21 on a kill by De Jesus, a second-team all-conference selection. Emma Strong served the Bulldogs to another point and a 22-21 lead, forcing Western Carolina head coach Karen Glover to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, a kill by Mellanie King extended the Bulldogs’ lead to 23-21, but a kill by Abigail Veit stopped the rally and pulled the Catamounts back within one.

King recorded another kill to give The Citadel set point, 24-22, but Veit again answered with a kill of her own to make it 24-23. Another kill by Veit tied it up at 24 and the teams traded points until a block by De Jesus and a service ace by King gave The Citadel a 27-25 win and knotted the match at one set apiece.

Western Carolina got on the scoreboard first in set three. Up 3-2, Abigail Murn served the Bulldogs to three straight points to extend the lead to 6-2. The Catamounts went on a rally of their own and pulled within one, 6-7, but the Bulldogs scored the next four to keep them at bay. The Citadel didn’t trail the remainder of the set and led by as many as six before putting the Catamounts away 25-20.

The fourth set was back and forth to begin until The Citadel began to pull away midway through. Tied 5-5, the Bulldogs outscored the Catamounts 7-3 to go up 12-8, but Western Carolina pulled it within one, 13-12. The match was tied at 16 and then again at 18 before The Citadel made a surge and outscored Western Carolina 7-2 down the stretch, earning a 25-20 win and clinching the match.

De Jesus led the Bulldogs with 22 kills and 35 digs, both match highs. She added three assists and two aces. King also recorded a double-double, finishing with 14 kills and 13 digs. Megan Fuhr paced the offense with 47 assists. Western Carolina was led by Veit, who tallied a double-double with 10 kills and 15 digs. Meagan Sanchez (29), Caroline Perret (15) and Hannah Price (13) joined Veit in double-digit digs.

2018 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship
Fleming Gymnasium ▪ Greensboro, N.C.

Friday, Nov. 16

First Round
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 vs. #9 The Citadel 2:30 p.m. (SDN/Roku)
Match 4: #2 Samford vs. #7 Chattanooga, 5 p.m. (SDN/Roku)
Match 5: #3 Furman vs. #6 UNCG, 7:30 p.m. (SDN/Roku)

Saturday, Nov. 17

Match 6: Match 2 winner vs. Match 3 winner, 2 p.m. (SDN/Roku)

Match 7: Match 4 winner vs. Match 5 winner, 4:30 p.m. (SDN/Roku)

Sunday, Nov. 18

Match 8: Match 6 winner vs. Match 7 winner, 2 p.m. (ESPN+)