By Jake Crouse, Copy Editor
Two recent road losses in conference play at Wofford and UNCG mark what has otherwise been a successful season for the Furman volleyball team thus far.
The Paladins (11-6, 5-2 SoCon) began their SoCon season with a three-game week, beating East Tennessee State and Mercer in back-to-back home games and Western Carolina on the road, all in 3-0 matches. Furman also followed up in Charleston, S.C. the next week with a 3-1 win over The Citadel. This gave coach Michelle Young her 300th career win with the Paladins. Young is in her 15th season of coaching the team. Before coaching, she was a four-year letterwinning setter at Clemson University.
The team’s first loss came on the road Oct. 7 in Spartanburg, S.C. against rival Wofford. A season low hitting percentage (.069%) allowed the Terriers to fight back from a late deficit to clinch the winning third set. Sophomore outside hitter Annie Bierman led the Paladins on offense and defense with 12 kills and 17 digs.
Furman fought back at home Oct. 9 against UT-Chattanooga, a team that had lost no conference games by that point, in a five-set match. Each set was decided by a margin of less than three points, including the final set in which Furman rallied to close the match at 15-12 after a 9-3 run. Bierman led the offense with 28 kills, nearly doubling the top scorers for Chattanooga, and senior defensive specialist/libero Caitlyn Scioscia totaled 19 digs on defense.
However, the Paladins would fall the following week on the road to UNC-Greensboro in a 3-0 shutout. The Paladins managed to take the second set to extra points to even the score, but ended up losing it 28-26, and conceded a 25-21 final set. Bierman tallied 14 kills on offense and sophomore libero Meg DeMaar led the defense with 17 digs.
Recently, senior setter Jo Wilks was named Furman’s ScanSource Student-Athlete Leader of the Month for September. The award began this season to honor Furman student-athletes who go above and beyond in the classroom, on the playing field and in the community. Wilks is a senior Health Sciences major with a 3.756 GPA and a three-time member of the SoCon Academic Honor Roll, and has worked with LiveWell Greenville and the Physical Activities Center at Furman.
Furman faces Mercer on the road in Macon, Ga. Oct. 17 before returning for back-to-back home matches Oct. 23-24 against Mercer and Samford.