Milwaukee, Wisc. – Annie Bierman put down a combined 47 kills as Furman volleyball split a pair of matches in the final day of the Pepsi Panther Invitational in Milwaukee, Wisc. Furman fell to tournament-host Milwaukee early in the day, 3-2 (25-18, 23-25, 25-17, 11-25, 12-15), before defeating Western Michigan 3-1 (25-22, 17-25, 25-20, 25-21). The Paladins finish the opening weekend at 1-2.
Bierman capped off a solid weekend performance with a career-high 28 kills in the win over Western Michigan, while adding 17 digs in the match for her first double-double of the year. The junior from Hamilton, Ohio, put down 19 kills with nine digs against Milwaukee. Senior Amelia Bohlander tallied 13 kills against Milwaukee, while freshman Carris Campbell added 11 against Western Michigan.
Freshman Jamila Johnson totaled 17 kills on the day, while senior Jo Wilks added 96 in Saturday's two matches. Sophomore libero Meg DeMaar turned in her first double-digit dig game of the year in the Western Michigan win with 20, while Taina Joseph added 11 blocks on the day.
The Paladins opened up an early 10-4 lead over Western Michigan, before the Broncos used a 5-0 run to cut Furman's lead to one. The teams then traded points until the Paladins used kills by Annie Bierman and Carris Campbell to take set one, 25-22.
Western Michigan used a 3-0 run in set two to force a Furman timeout with a 15-11 lead. The Broncos continued to add to their lead, eventually taking set two, 25-17, tying the match at one. With set three tied at 13, Furman used a 7-1 run to open up a 21-14 lead and seemingly take the momentum from the Broncos. Western Michigan would not go away, however, and used a 5-0 run of their own to cut the lead to two at 21-19. The Paladins were able to fend off the Western Michigan comeback, though, taking set three, 25-20, for a 2-1 lead in the match.
Furman again opened an early lead in set four, forcing a Western Michigan timeout with the Paladins holding a 10-5 lead. The teams then traded points until Furman used a kill from Jamila Johnson to extend its lead to six at 20-14 and prompt the Broncos to call their final timeout. Western Michigan again would not go down quietly, using a 5-1 run to cut the lead to two at 21-19. Out of a Furman timeout, the Paladins outscored the Broncos, 4-2, to take the set 25-21, and the match, 3-1.
In the early game against Milwaukee, Furman jumped out to a 15-12 lead in set one before the Panthers cut the lead to one at 15-14. Furman then rattled off six-straight points to push the lead to 21-14, before stretching the lead to eight at 24-16. Milwaukee would not go down quietly, cutting the lead to 24-18, but a Panther service error gave Furman the 25-18 set one win.
The teams traded points in set two until Furman opened its largest lead at 21-18. Milwaukee then used a 5-0 run to take a 23-21 lead. The Paladins battled back to tie the set at 23, but the Panthers would eventually take the set, 25-23, to tie the match at 1-1.
Set three was all Furman as the Paladins opened up a 12-7 lead, then pushed it to six at 21-17, forcing a Milwaukee timeout. Out of the timeout, Hunter Thompson served the Paladins next four points giving Furman a 25-17 set win and a 2-1 match lead.
After Milwaukee took the fourth set 25-11 to tie the match at two, the Panthers continued to hold on to the momentum, opening up a 9-5 lead in set five, forcing a Furman timeout. The Paladins battled back to cut the lead to three, but Milwaukee pushed the lead back to four at 12-8. Furman prompted Milwaukee's final timeout of the set as it cut the lead to 13-10, but out of the timeout the Panthers were able to hold off the Furman rally to take the set, 15-12, and the match, 3-1.
Furman is back in action next weekend as the Paladins host Winthrop, South Carolina, and Clemson in the Carolina Classic in Alley Gym.