Paladins Survive Five-Set Thriller, 3-2
“This was definitely a hard-fought match and a heartbreaker for us. It certainly has championship implications now that we are closing in on the end of our season, as do the remainder of our matches,” said head coach Chad Callihan. “Furman played a very clean match, committing only 16 errors in five sets, and used that to their advantage. They were a tough opponent tonight and simply found a way to make a couple more plays than we did. But our season is not over and we need to come out strong tomorrow against a tough Wofford team.”
Parker Small (Charlotte, N.C.) posted a career-high 19 kills as Lauren Claybaugh (Danville, Calif.) and Bethany Sanford (Avondale, Ariz.) recorded double-doubles for the Eagles. Claybaugh raked up 14 kills on five errors with 20 digs, a career-high, for her fourth double-double of the season. Sanford, meanwhile, drew her 14th double-double of the season off 18 kills and 22 digs. Sanford’s 22 digs also marked a season-best for the sophomore Eagle and a team-high. Freshman setter Kate Van Dyke (Shawnee, Kan.) tallied 54 assists on the evening.
“I thought both Parker [Small] and Bethany [Sanford] had strong matches for us tonight,” said Callihan. “We’ve been asking Bethany to be more aggressive offensively and I thought she did a really good job of that tonight, especially down the stretch. She really provided us an offensive punch in the fifth set and stepped up like we’ve been asking her to.”
The Eagles hit .254 for the match to Furman’s .277. The Paladins were led by Kelly Kirby with 16 kills and Stephanie Smith with 23 digs. Kelsey Salava totaled 46 assists on the night as both Alexis Shaffer and Caroline Adams produced four block assists each.
The Eagles came out firing in the opening set, jumping out to a 6-0 lead that set the pace for the remainder of the stanza. Sanford and Small led the Eagles with five kills each as Georgia Southern stunned Furman in the opening set, 25-22. Furman looked on pace in the second set, taking an early lead, holding the Eagles to four points at 9-4. But a 4-0 run at 11-6 clipped the Eagles to within one point at 11-10. A Claybaugh kill tied the set at 15-all as the teams tied the set twice thereafter before Georgia Southern held onto the lead for a 25-21 second set win.
Coming back from the break, Furman opened the third set much like the second. After two early lead changes, the Paladins pulled away from the Eagles and secured the third set, 25-20. At 15-all in the fourth set, Furman took a three-point lead, 18-15, with two kills and a service ace. Senior Cristin Haines (Palos Heights, Ill.) pulled the Eagles to within one point at 19-18, but Furman maintained control and closed out the fourth set, 25-20.
Georgia Southern jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the deciding fifth set. But Furman responded reeling off six consecutive points to take the lead, 7-5. After four ties, two lead changes and one saved match point on a Small kill, the conference foes knotted the score at 14-apiece. Natalie Braun gave Furman second match point as the Paladins forced an Eagle error to secure the win, 16-14.
Georgia Southern will look to rebound from the heartbreaking five-set loss Saturday when it takes on Wofford. On Halloween, the Eagles will look to complete a season sweep over the Terriers in Hanner Fieldhouse. Fans dressed in Halloween costumes will receive free admission to the match and be automatically entered into a halftime costume contest. Match time between the two rival schools is set for 7 p.m.
- Category: Volleyball
- Published on Saturday, 31 October 2009 00:16