By: Charlie Lott, Sports Writer
Photo courtesy of Lois Ruffle
The Furman Paladins won three straight sets to sweep the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers Friday, Sept. 29. The Paladins showed explosive offense, registering 45 kills including 15 by sophomore outside hitter Nicole Mack.
Furman and ETSU fought back and forth for most of the first set but eventually the Paladins started to pull ahead thanks to a 12-2 run, giving them a quick win by a score of 25-17. The second set was much of the same, with Furman jumping out to an early lead. Momentum began to shift, and the Bucs managed to tie the score at 18 apiece, but eventually the Paladins managed to eke out a set two victory by three points, 25-22.
According to junior outside hitter Jamilia Johnson, the team’s success was thanks to mental preparation and focus on the task at hand. “I think we played up, we really didn’t play down to the other team’s level, we really just focused on what we had to do, and it was really nice to get a clean sweep at home,” Johnson said.
The Paladins came out in the third set looking a little tired, allowing ETSU to take a three-point lead and hold it early on. Furman stayed tough though, tying the Bucs at 11 and then getting ahead by four. One last ditch effort by ETSU regained the upper hand, but eventually the Paladins put the Bucs to bed, finishing with a score of 25-23 to take home the set and the match.
According to Johnson, the team still needs to work on consistency when it comes to serving the ball. “I think that we could really pick up our first contact, our servicing,” explains Johnson. “Usually that’s our A-plus area, but tonight it was a little rough.”
This game represents Furman’s first competition in the Southern Conference for the year, coming off of a .500 out-of-conference win percentage with seven wins and seven losses.
The Paladins continued their excellent play with yet another sweep, this time over the Chattanooga on Sat., Sept. 30 in Alley Gym. The victory brings the Paladins to an undefeated conference record of 3-0 and is number one in the conference. Mack led Furman with 15 kills and redshirt junior setter Hunter Thompson had 34 assists and 10 digs.
The Paladins will look to continue to extend their run on Oct. 6 in Alley Gym against the Western Carolina Catamounts.
Home. Sweet. Home. The Paladins celebrate while playing the Gardner Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs in their first home match of the season. Not only is Furman undefeated at home, but they have swept all of their opponents.