BIRMINGHAM, ALA. – Samford came from behind to hand the Furman volleyball team a 3-2 (28-30, 25-20, 23-25, 25-19, 15-12) loss Saturday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala.
The Paladins jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set before the Bulldogs fought back to tie the score at 14-14. The two teams battled back and forth throughout the rest of the set, with seven tied scores and three lead changes before Furman put two-straight points together off a Samford service error and a kill by sophomore Caroline Adams for a 30-28 win.
The two teams were tied six times early in the second set before Samford built a six point lead at 16-10. Furman later went on a 5-1 run to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 23-20, but Elizabeth Neisler posted back-to-back kills to give Samford the 25-20 second-set victory.
Furman then took an early 6-2 lead in set three, but Samford tied the score at 15 points apiece. The Paladins went on a 6-3 run to build a 21-18 advantage before Samford cut the Furman lead to one at 23-22. Kills by senior Katherine Hall and sophomore Natalie Braun gave the Paladins a 25-23 win and a 2-1 set advantage.
After the Paladins opened set four with four quick points, the Bulldogs used a 9-5 run to tied the score at nine. The two teams battled to an 18 point tie before Samford went on a 7-1 run to end the set with a 25-19 victory, tying the score at two sets apiece and forcing a deciding fifth set.
Samford took a 7-3 lead in the fifth set before Furman scored three-straight points off a kill by Adams, a service ace by senior Brooke Ellison and a Bulldog error. Sophomore Chandler Ambrester later posted two consecutive kills to tie the score at eight points apiece. The two teams were then tied at nine and 10 before Samford took a 12-10 lead. After a Furman timeout, the Paladins pulled within one point off a kill by junior Alexis Shaffer, but the Bulldogs won the next two points for a 14-11 advantage. After a Samford service error brought the Paladins within two, Allie Bettinger posted a Bulldog kill for the 15-12 win in the final set.
Junior Kelly Kirby posted her fifth triple-double of the season, leading Furman with 17 kills and 36 assists, while adding 11 digs in the match. Junior Carolyn Nicoletti recorded 27 assists and 13 digs for her fifth double-double of the season, and rookie Elle Ross posted a career-high 24 digs to pace the Paladins. Sophomore Natalie Braun recorded 16 kills, while Shaffer added 11 kills in the Paladin effort.
Neisler led Samford (10-13, 4-5 SoCon) with 19 kills, while Lauren Hutchison hit .414 with 14 kills for the Bulldogs. Casey Garvey recorded 53 assists, and Alexis Bauer posted a team-high 25 digs.
Furman (12-9, 6-3 SoCon) will play at Chattanooga Sunday at 2 p.m.