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Georgia Southern Comes From Behind To Defeat Furman In Five Set Thriller

STATESBORO, GA. – Georgia Southern took advantage of an 11-2 run at the end of the fourth set for a come-from-behind 3-2 (25-20, 21-25, 25-27, 26-24, 15-9) win over Furman Thursday night in Statesboro, Ga. 

The Eagles took an early lead and won set one 25-20 before the Paladins returned the favor with a 25-21 win in the second set to tie the match at one set apiece.  Following the break, Georgia Southern built a quick lead in the third set.  Furman tied the match several times but was unable to take the lead until a kill by junior Kelly Kirby put the Paladins up 22-21.  The two teams battled back and forth and were tied at 25 apiece when a kill by sophomore Chandler Ambrester and an Eagle error gave Furman a 27-25 win and a 2-1 set advantage.

After building a 12-11 lead in the fourth set, the Paladins went on a 10-4 run to extend the lead to 22-15.  The Eagles then won four-straight points and began to put together a comeback.  A kill by sophomore Caroline Adams put Furman up 24-21 late in the fourth set, but the Eagles won five-straight points to end the set with a 26-24 victory and tie the match at two sets each.

The two teams were tied at seven points apiece in the fifth set before kills by Parker Small and Bethany Sanford gave Georgia Southern a 9-7 advantage.  Ambrester recorded a kill to cut the Eagles' lead to one, but Georgia Southern then put together four-straight points to take a 13-8 lead.  Furman was unable to overcome the deficit, and the Eagles won the fifth set, 15-9.

"We had an opportunity to win the match in the fourth set, and we didn't capitalize off our chances," said Paladin head coach Michelle Young following the loss.  "Georgia Southern was able to take advantage of the momentum from its home crowd and close the deal."

Three Paladins recorded double-doubles in the loss, with Kirby leading the team with 42 assists and 21 digs.  Sophomore Natalie Braun posted a team-high 15 kills and added 13 digs, while Ambrester tallied 10 kills and 17 digs.  Senior Katherine Hall had 13 kills and led Furman with four blocks, and freshman Elle Ross had 18 digs in the match. 

Sanford led Georgia Southern (19-7, 10-1 SoCon) with 21 kills, while Small added 15 kills for the Eagles.  Kate Van Dyke posted a team-high 58 assist, and Ashley Roe led the team with 22 digs.

Furman (13-10, 7-4 SoCon) completes the final match of a four-match road swing when the Paladins play at Davidson Saturday at 7 p.m.