FT. MEYERS, FLA. – Junior Natalie Braun notched her third triple-double of the season to lead the Furman volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-14, 20-25, 25-14, 25-20) win over Florida Gulf Coast Saturday in the Paladins' final match at the FGCU Homewood Suites Invitational in Ft. Meyers, Fla. Braun tallied 11 kills, 28 assist, and 13 digs in the victory.
Furman led 14-11 in the first set before the Paladins went on a 6-1 run to open up the lead to 20-12. The Eagles cut the lead to 21-14, but Furman capitalized off two FGCU errors and two kills from senior Kelly Kirby for the 25-14 win.
The Paladins built an early 8-4 lead in the second set, but Florida Gulf Coast scored four consecutive points to tie the set. The teams remained tied at 12 apiece before the Eagles scored five-straight for a 17-12 advantage. Furman could cut the lead to no less than four points throughout the last half of the set, as FGCU took a 25-20 win to tie the set score at 1-1 going into the break.
The teams battled through a close beginning to the third set. Furman won six out of seven points to amass a 9-5 lead, but FGCU scored three points to slash the lead to one point. The Paladins then broke open the set, winning nine out of ten points for an 18-9 advantage and never looked back, winning set three 25-14 for a 2-1 set lead.
Furman led 9-8 in the fourth set, then the Paladins won nine out of 12 points to take an 18-12 lead. The Eagles scored three-straight later in the match to cut the score to 23-18, and came as close as 24-20 before a kill from junior Caroline Adams sealed the 25-20 victory for the Paladins.
Kirby hit .458 and recorded a double-double with a team-high 12 kills and 12 assists, while junior Carolyn Nicoletti paced the Paladin defensive attack with 17 digs. Adams tallied four block assists in the win.
Florida Gulf Coast (2-4) was led by Jill Hopper with 13 kills and Camil Dominguez with 44 assists. Holly Youngquist recorded 21 digs to pace the Eagles.
Earlier in the day, the Paladins dropped a 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-21) match to #3 Southern California. Kirby notched a double-double with 18 assists and 12 digs, while Adams posted a team-high 10 kills. Senior Alexis Shaffer hit .500 with seven kills, and junior Chandler Ambrester paced the team with 15 digs. Braun added 19 assists to lead the Paladins.
Furman (4-3) will travel to Charlotte next weekend for the Hilton University 49er Invitational. The Paladins will take on Morgan State Friday at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, Furman will face Campbell at 10 a.m. and Charlotte at 7 p.m.