GREENVILLE, S.C. – Furman seniors Chandler Ambrester, Caroline Adams, Natalie Bruan, and Christina Curry combined for 59 kills, 30 digs, and 8 blocks, but the effort fell just short as the College of Charleston slipped past Furman, 3-2 (25-20, 16-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-12), in the Paladins' Senior Day match Saturday before a capacity crowd at Alley Gymnasium in Greenville, S.C. The match featured 20 ties and six lead changes as each team battled through long and aggressive rallies.
Prior to the match, the Paladins honored the four seniors, who have amassed an 85-33 overall record and a 48-14 Southern Conference mark during their four years at Furman. The team dedicated the season to the memory of Mike Ambrester, father of Chandler Ambrester, who passed away last month.
"I am really proud of our seniors," said Paladin head coach Michelle Young following the match. "Today was a very emotional day, which was a culmination of everything that has happened in program over the last month. I was happy to see our team deal with all of those emotions and still battle with a really good Charleston team. We are focused on getting everyone ready, so we can peak at the Southern Conference tournament in a few weeks."
Ambrester recorded her eighth-straight double-double, posting 24 kills and 14 digs, while Braun added her 16th double-double of the season after notching 13 kills and a team-high 15 digs. Adams led the team with a .441 attack percentage, adding 16 kills and three blocks, while Curry finished the match with six kills and three blocks.
Freshman Jo Wilks led the Paladins with 61 assists and added 11 digs, and junior libero Elle Ross collected 12 digs. Freshman Caitlyn Scioscia tallied a team-high four service aces and 11 digs in the match-up. Junior Christina Dorismond posted 13 kills and two solo bocks for Furman.
The Cougars led throughout the first set, stretching a two-point 13-11 lead to a 19-12 advantage following a 6-1 run mid-set. The lead remained seven at 22-15 before the Paladins put together a 4-1 run of their own, but College of Charleston managed two of the last three points for a 25-20 set win.
Fueled by the strong service of Scioscia, Furman reeled off eight-straight points late in the second set to turn a 15-14 deadlock into a 23-14 lead. The Paladins capitalized off four Cougar errors during the run, bring the crowd to their feet during the "rally in the Alley." A kill from Dorismond quickly gave Furman set point and a CofC service error sealed the Paladin set win, 26-15.
Following the break, the teams battled through five ties and two lead changes in set three. Down 17-14 following three consecutive Cougar kills, the Paladin won three out of four points off back-to-back kills from Braun and a kill by Dorismond to cut the deficit to one at 18-17. CofC again built a three-point lead at 22-19, but a kill from Ambrester, coupled with a Cougar ball handling error, again brought the Paladins within one. The teams traded points to settle at 23-22 before CofC put together back-to-back points for the 25-22 victory.
College of Charleston led 14-11 in the fourth set, but Furman scored the next four points to build a 15-14 margin after a block by seniors Adams, Curry, and Ambrester. The Paladins led by one at 18-17 before connecting on four straight points, including a kill from freshman setter Jo Wilks and a service ace by Scioscia, to take a 22-17 lead. The Cougars pulled within three at 24-21, but a kill from Ambrester gave Furman the 25-21 win and forced a decisive fifth set.
College of Charleston built a quick 7-4 lead in set five but the Paladins put together back-to-back points to pull within one. The teams remained within one point until the Cougars won three out of four points to take a 14-11 advantage. A kill from Dorismond kept the Paladins in the match, but a final kill by White gave the College of Charleston the 15-12 victory.
College of Charleston (21-7, 12-2 SoCon) was led by Darcy Dorton, who had a double-double with 19 kills and 11 digs. Libero Emily Shelton paced the Cougar defense with 16 digs, while Taeler Davis collected 62 assists for CofC. Melissa Morello notched a double-double with 12 kills and 15 digs.
Furman (21-8, 9-5 SoCon) concludes the regular season next weekend. The Paladins play at Georgia Southern Friday at 6 p.m. then face Davidson on the road Saturday at 4 p.m.