BOONE, N.C. – UNC Greensboro fought back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Furman 3-2 (25-18, 21-25, 22-25, 25-19,15-9) Friday morning in the opening match of the 2010 Southern Conference Volleyball Championship at Holmes Convocation Center in Boone, N.C. The Spartans improved to 23-10 on the year, while the Paladins finished the season with a 17-12 overall mark and an 11-5 SoCon record.
In the first set, UNCG jumped out to a 5-1 lead and took the first set, 25-18. The Paladins closed within one at 10-9, but could not get any closer. The Spartans were led by junior outside hitter Ariel Newman who tallied seven kills and six digs while recording a hitting percentage of .500 in the opening set.
In a back and forth second set that saw eight ties and four lead changes, Furman used a 5-1 run of its own with the score tied at 20 to take the set, 25-21. First team All-SoCon selection Kelly Kirby led the charge for the Paladins as she recorded five digs, four assists and three kills in the second set.
The third set began as a repeat of the second, as neither team could establish a lead of more than three points for most of the set. With the score tied at 18, Furman capitalized on back-to-back blocks to spark a 4-1 run and take a 22-19 lead. The Spartans fought back to equal the set at 22 and forced Furman to call a timeout. The Paladins came out of the break and scored the final three points of the set to win, 25-22. There were 13 ties and seven lead changes in the set. The Paladins were led by junior middle blocker Alexis Shaffer, who had two block assists and five kills on 11 attempts with one error for a .364 attack percentage in the set.
The fourth set was controlled by the Spartans, who claimed a 25-19 win. UNCG never trailed in the set, and after jumping out to an early 5-2 lead, the Spartans distanced themselves from the Paladins and led by as many as seven. Senior middle blocker Kayren Finney led the Spartans attack in the fourth set with four kills on seven attacks with no errors for a .571 hitting percentage.
In the deciding fifth set, UNCG once again jumped out to a 5-2 lead to open the set. Furman cut the lead to one at 7-6 on a kill by sophomore Chandler Ambrester, but the Spartans won the next three points and went on to claim a 15-9 set win to close out the match.
Senior Katherine Hall led the Paladins with 17 kills, and Shaffer added 12 kills and a team-high seven blocks. Freshman setter Sarah McCarthy notched a team-leading 23 assists, while sophomore Natalie Braun led the Furman defensive attack with 24 digs. Ambrester tallied 14 digs and six blocks, and Kirby posted a double-double with 19 assists and 19 digs. Freshman Christina Dorismond had five block assists in the match-up.
Overall, the Spartans were led by Newman and senior outside hitter Caley Redden, who both record double-doubles. Newman tallied 17 kills and 18 digs, and Redden tallied a game-high 18 kills and 17 assists.