GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG volleyball team built an 8-2 lead in the fifth set Friday night against Furman, but the Paladins outscored the Spartans 14-6 in the rest of the frame to escape Fleming Gymnasium with a 3-2 Southern Conference victory.
The Blue and Gold played its 10th five-set match of the year and second consecutive, falling to 4-6 in those contests.
UNCG (10-11, 4-5 SoCon) out-played Furman (18-5, 7-2 SoCon) in virtually every statistical category, including kills (75-65), hitting percentage (.236-.218) digs (87-79) and blocks (13.0-9.0), but the Paladins did post seven aces to the Spartans' one. UNCG also sided out at just 50 percent after the bench switch in the fifth set.
A trio of juniors turned in solid offensive performances for the Spartans as Olivia Humphries and Karrian Chambers both set career highs in kills with 27 and 25 respectively while Morgan Freeman added 12 kills in the five sets. Chambers and Humphries also ended up with their sixth and fifth double-doubles of the season, contributing 18 and 11 digs to the UNCG cause. Senior setter Ari Lysacek tied her career high in assists, handing out 51 to go along with seven digs.
With the teams tied at six early in the first set, the Spartans produced a 6-1 run to move in front by a 12-7 score. A Humphries kill stretched the advantage to 16-10 before Furman called its first timeout of the match. The Paladins used the respite to their advantage, outscoring UNCG 7-1 to roar back and tie the frame at 17. The Spartans led 19-18 on a block by Harley and Sidney, but it would be the last time they were ahead in the interval as Furman used a kill and a block to break a 23-23 deadlock and win the first set.
It was the Spartans who called the first timeout of the second frame when a kill by Christina Dorismond gave the visitors an 11-7 advantage. UNCG answered however, scoring four-straight points to knot the score at 11. The Paladins led as late as 19-17, but a Spartan block capped a 3-1 run which put UNCG ahead by a point. The Spartans reached set point with a kill by Humphries and enjoyed a 24-20 cushion before allowing Furman just one more point – clinching the set 25-21.
The sides played it close to begin the third interval, eventually ending up tied at 10 on a solo block by freshman Julia Westerbur. However, the Paladins put together an 8-4 run capped by a Humphries attack error which gave them what they needed to hold off UNCG in the set. The Spartans pulled within 20-17 on an attack error by Dorismond, but Furman out-scored the home team 5-3 to win the third frame 25-20 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Chandler Ambrester scored the first point of the fourth set with a kill, but Chambers and Humphries responded with a pair of kills to give UNCG an early 2-1 lead. Just as in the third set, the Paladins produced a lengthy run which this time gave them a 14-11 advantage. The Spartans were able to find an answer, scoring four of the next five points to tie the interval at 15. Chambers and Harley teamed up on a block to make it 19-18 in UNCG's favor, but two-straight scores by Furman forced a Spartan timeout. The call worked well for UNCG as the Spartans were able to rattle off a 5-2 run to put the match on the verge of a fifth set. The Paladins rallied all the way back to within 24-23, but Humphries unleashed an attack that ricocheted off the block and just out of the reach of the Furman back row to give UNCG a 25-23 set four victory.
The Spartans blitzed the Paladins to start the deciding set, scoring seven-straight points off the serve of Lysacek. The advantage grew to 9-3 on a Humphries kill, forcing Furman to call its second timeout. The Paladins responded in a big way, netting six consecutive scores to forge a 10-10 deadlock. Freeman ended the run with a kill to make the score 11-10, but an Ambrester kill finished off a 4-2 run which put Furman at match point. Humphries kept UNCG alive with a kill, but a block and a kill were the last two points of the match as the Paladins snuck out of Fleming Gym with a 16-14 set five win and the match.
The Spartans continue their four-match homestand tomorrow night, hosting Wofford at 7 p.m.