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Furman Tops Clemson, 3-2, Wins Carolina Challenge

Annie Bierman
Annie Bierman

Rock Hill, S.C. – Behind the play of outside hitters Annie Bierman and Christen Sikora, Furman rallied from an 0-2 hole to top Clemson, 3-2 (23-25, 18-25, 25-18, 25-22, 15-9), in the Paladins final game of the 2014 Carolina Challenge at Winthrop. With the win, Furman moves to 3-3 on the year while handing Clemson its first loss to put the Tigers at 6-1 on the season.

Annie Bierman led the Paladins with 18 kills and 13 digs for her fourth double-double of the year, while Christen Sikora turned in 15 kills for her second double-digit kill game of the day. Ashton Gregory and Amelia Bohlander each added nine kills, while Jo Wilks dished out 48 assists. Payton Frappier tallied 11 digs and Meg DeMaaAr added 25.

Set one was tight from the opening serve. After an Annie Bierman service ace and an Ashton Gregory kill, Clemson called the first timeout of the set, trailing 15-14. The teams then traded points until Clemson took a 21-20 lead, prompting Furman's first timeout of the set. The Paladins fought back to take a 22-21 lead, forcing Clemson to use their second TO. The Tigers then fought back themselves take a 23-22 lead, prompting Furman to take the final TO of its own. After an Annie Bierman kill tied the set at 23, Clemson finished the set on a 2-0 run to take set one, 25-23.

The second set was all Tigers, as Clemson opened up a 12-7 lead, prompting Furman to call its first timeout of the set. The Tigers continued their strong play in the set, not allowing the Paladins to get any closer than six. Clemson would finish the set with two consecutive kills, taking set two, 25-18 and a 2-0 lead in the match.

The Paladins came out with a vengeance in set three, jumping out to a 10-5 lead. They continued to pour it on against the Tigers, extending their lead to 16-10. The Tigers tried to claw their way back into the set, cutting the Furman lead to four at 20-16, but the Paladins closed out set three on a 5-2 run taking set three, 25-18, making the match score 2-1.

The teams traded points early in set four, until a Jo Wilks ace stretched Furman's lead to 11-7 and forced Clemson to take its first timeout of the set. The Paladins continued to dominate, opening up a 19-13 lead. The Tigers again tried to claw its way back into the set, cutting the lead to four at 21-17. Clemson cut the lead to three at 23-20, but the Paladins were able to hold on to the three point lead, taking set four 25-22 and forcing a fifth set.

Set five was all Paladins. With the score tied at three, Furman used a 6-0 run to open up a 9-3 lead. Clemson would get no closer than four as the Paladins took set five, 15-9, and the match, 3-2.

Furman is back in action on Tuesday as it hosts Gardner-Webb at 7:00 p.m. in the 2014 home opener.