BIRMINGHAM, AL – Kayren Finney had a
career day with 18 kills and 10 blocks but Samford rallied to win
the final two sets to hold off UNC Greensboro by scores of 22-25,
29-27, 16-25, 25-18 and 15-11 in a five-set Southern Conference
volleyball thriller Sunday afternoon.
Finney set career highs in both categories, joining Kaitlyn Nortz (13 kills) and Branagan Fuller (11) in double-figures, but it wasn't enough to overcome 20 kills by Ashley Adams. Samford hit .417 in the fourth set and .308 in the fifth to stage its rally.
UNCG (15-9, 7-4 SoCon) scored four of the final five points to claim the opening set. Following a timeout with the score tied at 21-21, Two kills by Finney and one from Fuller and Billi Baker closed out the set.
Samford (21-3, 10-1) came back to win the second after an early UNCG lead. The Spartans jumped out 5-1 to open the set before the Bulldogs rallied to take a 9-8 lead. A 9-4 UNCG run, capped off by a Baker kill, gave the Spartans a 17-13 lead and forced Samford to call a timeout. The Bulldogs responded with five of the next six points to tie the match.
From there, the second set became a see-saw affair. With set point for the Spartans, Rachel Gadberry's kill tied it at 25-25. That was one of three set points UNCG had in the second set, but Samford came back from a 27-26 deficit to score the final three points, capped off by Sarah Gardner's service ace, to win the set 29-27.
UNCG ran way with the third set with a big run midway through the set. With Samford holding a 7-6 advantage, UNCG scored four straight points to start a 15-6 and take a 21-13 lead, finishing it off with a Finney kill, and coasted from there.
But midway through the fourth set, Samford found another gear. The Bulldogs scored nine of the final 11 points of the set to break open a 16-16 tie and force a fifth and deciding set. Then, in the fifth, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 9-3 lead. The Spartans got back to within three at 13-10 on a kill by Baker. But Sara Sears' kill made it 14-10 and, following a service error, Adams closed it out with her 20th kill of the day.
UNCG closed out its road trip 2-2 and will face Appalachian State back home in Fleming Gym next Saturday evening at 5 pm.
Samford def. UNCG 22-25, 29-27, 16-25, 25-18, 15-11
UNCG (15-9, 7-4 SoCon) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Kayren Finney 18-0-10; Kaitlyn Nortz 13-2-1; Branagan Fuller 11-0-1; Billi Baker 9-0-6; Luciana Shafer 2-0-0; Caley Redden 2-0-1; Lisa Fawell 1-1-0; Alissa Beaudway 1-0-2; Kimiko Naito 0-2-0; Catherine Hanners 0-3-0; Totals 57-8-12.5. (Assists) - Kimiko Naito 28; Lisa Fawell 18. (Dig leaders) - Catherine Hanners 16; Kimiko Naito 9; Luciana Shafer 9
Samford (21-3, 10-1 SoCon) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Ashley Adams 20-0-2; Kirstein Sosnowski 14-0-5; Rachel Gadberry 8-0-5; Sara Sears 7-0-3; Sheriden Stangohr 7-0-9; Hillary Fountain 6-0-4; Sarah Gardner 0-5-0; Totals 62-5-15.0. (Assists) - Hillary Fountain 45. (Dig leaders) - Courtney Gay 14; Sarah Gardner 10
- UNCG -