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Furman Downs Winthrop, 3-1, in Carolina Classic

Christen Sikora
Christen Sikora

Greenville, S.C. – With the match tied 1-1, Furman volleyball responded with back-to-back set wins to down Winthrop, 3-1 (25-19, 18-25, 25-20, 25-14), in the second game of the Carolina Classic in Alley Gym on Friday night. The Paladins held the Eagles to a .121 hitting percentage in set three, before shutting them down offensively in set four, when Winthrop hit -.057.

Annie Bierman paced Furman offensively, putting down 17 kills, while Amelia Bohlander and Taina Joseph each added 10. The trio combined to add 11 digs and 8 blocks on the night, while libero Meg DeMaar added 21 digs. Jo Wilks picked up her second double-double of the year with 49 assists and 11 digs, but it was Christen Sikora who was the difference in the match. The sophomore from Southlake, Texas came off the bench and added nine kills, including seven in set three.

The teams traded points early in set one, until Winthrop opened up a one-point lead at 12-11. The teams continued to trade points until, with the score tied at 15, Furman used a 5-0 run to open up its biggest lead of the set at 20-15. The Eagles cut the lead to three at 20-17, but Furman then stretched its lead to six at 23-17, forcing a Winthrop timeout. The teams traded points out of the timeout to give Furman the 25-19 set one victory.

Set two was another back-and-forth affair, until the Eagles took a 15-12 lead, forcing a Furman timeout. Winthrop was able to capitalize on some key Furman errors in set to to push the lead to six at 20-14, prompting another Paladin timeout. Out of the timeout, the Eagles held off any chance of a Furman rally to take set two, 25-18, and tie the match at one.

Winthrop jumped out to an early 7-4 lead in set three, but Furman again rallied to cut the lead to one at 14-13. Then, powered by three kills from Sikora, Furman used a 5-0 run to open up a four-point lead at 18-14. The teams then traded points until the Paladins opened their biggest lead of the set at 22-17, forcing Winthrop to use its final timeout of the set. Despite the Eagles cutting the lead to 22-19, Furman out-scored Winthrop 3-1 over the final four points to take set three, 25-20, and a 2-1 lead in the match.

Winthrop cut Furman's early lead to one at 6-5 in set four, before the Paladins caught fire and used a 10-2 run to take a 16-7 lead and swing the momentum entirely in their favor. Winthrop cut Furman's lead to seven at 18-11, but the Paladins rattled off five-straight points to push the lead to 23-11 and closed out the match with kills from Bohlander and Joseph to take set four, 25-14, and the match, 3-1.

Earlier on Friday, South Carolina downed Clemson 3-1, after the Tigers led 1-0 early in the match. The four teams continue play in the Carolina Classic tomorrow, beginning at 10:00 am.