Volleyball Southern Conference

No. 1 ETSU, No. 2 Samford advance to finals

Samford beats Furman 3-0 and advances to final

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Second-seeded Samford downed third-seeded Furman 3-0 in the semifinal round of the 2018 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship. Samford, which swept Furman 25-21, 25-18 and 25-18, advances to play top-seed ETSU in the championship on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. Samford won the 2016 championship on their home court and ETSU won in Cullowhee last season.

The two sweeps on Saturday marks just the fourth time in conference history and the second consecutive time that both semifinals in the SoCon Tournament have gone just three games, though until last season it hadn’t happened since 1985.

In the first set, Samford quickly jumped out to a 6-1 lead and didn’t trail the remainder of the set. Furman pulled within three, 10-7, but Samford kept momentum on their side and ran the lead back to 18-12 on a kill by Kelsi Hobbs. The Paladins again pulled within three at 22-19 on a kill by Carris Campbell, but held on for a 25-21 set win. Shayla Philip paced the Samford attack, hitting .444 with five kills.

The squads traded points to begin the second set. Tied at 10, the Bulldogs fired off six straight behind the serve of Hobbs and three kills from Lauren Deaton, the SoCon freshman of the year. The six-point margin was too much for Furman to overcome, as the Bulldogs led by five or more the remainder of the set and took set two by a score of 25-18. Deaton had 10 of her 13 kills in the second set and helped keep the Paladins at bay.

Like the second set, the third set was evenly matched until the midway point. With Furman up 14-13, Grace Tiesman, the Samford libero, served the Bulldogs to four straight points and a 17-14 lead, swinging momentum back to Samford and forcing Furman head coach Michelle Young to use her first timeout of the set.  Out of the timeout, Samford added another point to go up 18-14 before Furman sided out on an attack error by Deaton. Samford closed the set on a 7-3 run and win 25-18.

Four Bulldogs’ finished in double-figure kills, led by Hobbs with 14. Deaton followed with 13 kills and added 18 digs, while first team all-conference selection, Krista Boesing, had 12 kills. Samford hit .274 as a team and held Furman to just a .146 hitting percentage.

Carris Campbell led Furman with 10 kills and hit a team-high .450 on 20 swings. Jamila Johnson (16), Jordan McNeill (12) and libero Meg DeMaar (12) all had double-digit dig performances.

 ETSU edges Mercer, will play for championship

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Top-seeded ETSU edged fourth-seeded Mercer 3-0 on Saturday afternoon in the 2018 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship semifinals. With the win (25-14, 25-20, 26-24), ETSU advances to their seventh championship final appearance and second in a row, looking to defend their 2017 title. The Bucs will face the winner of No. 2 seed Samford and No. 3 seed Furman in the final on Sunday, Nov 18 at 2 p.m.

The first set was even to start, with both teams coming out hot and emotions high. Tied at six, ETSU rattled off four straight behind two kills by senior AJ Lux, a kill by Braedyn Tutton and an attack error by the Bears, forcing a Mercer timeout. ETSU’s streak continued out of the break as the Bucs’ scored five of the next seven to push the lead to 14-8. Brittany Major, an all-freshman selection, stopped the run with a kill for the Bears but ETSU wouldn’t go away and kept the Bears at a distance. A kill by Major pulled Mercer within five, 15-10, but the Bucs’ ended the set on a 10-2 run, thanks to four kills by Lux in the span. Lux hit .625 with six kills and just one error in the opening set as the Bucs’ took it 25-14.

Teams traded points to begin the second set. A kill by Leah Clayton, the SoCon player of the year, tied the match at five and sent Kaela Massey back to serve. Massey served the Bucs to three straight points and forced Mercer head coach Dexter Schroeder to take a timeout. ETSU added a pair of points out of the break to push the lead to 10-5 but a kill by Annie Karle, a member of the all-freshman team, ended the rally and pulled the Bears within four. Mercer cut the lead to three off a kill by Roberta Todd to make it 16-13 and then to two when back-to-back kills by Major made it 19-17. ETSU took a timeout and won six of the next eight to hold on for a 25-20 win.

The third set was tightly contested with 19 ties and nine lead changes. Major put the Bears on the board first with a kill off a pass from setter Maddie Nunley. Teams traded points, neither leading by more than one, until Major put Mercer ahead 10-8 with a kill, one of her 10 on the afternoon. Lux answered with a kill and Mercer had an attack error to knot it at 10. Tied at 16, Major threw down a kill and ETSU two attack errors to put Mercer up 19-16, the largest lead of the set by any team. Bucs’ head coach Lindsey Devine called timeout and ETSU scored three of the next four to tie it at 20. This time, Mercer took a timeout. The squads were tied at 22, 23, and 24 before Clayton and Tuttton sent home kills that gave ETSU a 26-24 set win and a 3-0 sweep, their fifth consecutive.

Clayton led ETSU with 15 kills and 10 digs and earned another double-double, while Lux followed with 13 kills. Libero of the year, Marija Popovic, had 10 digs while first team all-conference setter Alyssa Kvarta finished with 30 assists.

Todd led the Bears with 11 kills with Major right behind with 10. Nunley tallied 29 assists and seven digs while libero Emilee Wissmach’s 12 digs was a team-high.  

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 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: #1 ETSU 3, #4 Mercer 0 (SDN/Roku)
Match 7: #2 Samford 3, #3 Furman 0 (SDN/Roku)

Sunday, Nov. 18

Match 8: #1 ETSU vs. #2 Samford, 2 p.m.  (ESPN+)