Greenville, S.C. – Behind tournament-MVP Jo Wilks's 12.54 assists per set, Furman volleyball downed Clemson and South Carolina on Saturday to win the Carolina Classic, hosted in Alley Gym by the Paladins. Furman opened the tournament's second day with a 3-2 (25-22, 26-28, 23-25, 25-13, 15-12) win over the Tigers, then closed out the day with a 3-1 (25-14, 28-30, 25-17, 25-22) win over the Gamecocks. This is Furman's second consecutive Carolina Classic win, after going 2-1 in 2014 when the tournament was hosted by Winthrop.
Wilks totaled 114 assists on the day (12.67 assists per set) and helped the Paladins out-hit their opponents .242 to .142 (133 kills to 107 kills). The senior from Union Grove, Wisc., added 22 digs and three aces on Saturday. Annie Bierman led the Paladins in kills on Saturday, putting down 33 for a 3.67 kills per set average, while Christen Sikora added 31 kills and earned All-Tournament honors. Taina Joseph also earned All-Tournament honors, while Amelia Bohlander totaled 19 kills on the day and added a team-high-tying 8 blocks, including five against South Carolina.
After taking a 1-0 match lead in the morning game versus Clemson, the Tigers used two-straight points to take set point at 24-19. Then, after a kill by Joseph, Meg DeMaar served the Paladins on a 5-0 run to steal a 25-24 lead in the set. The Tigers would not go away quietly, however, as the teams traded points until Clemson used a kill and Furman error to take set two, 28-26, to tie the match at one.
The teams traded points in set three until Clemson held off the Furman comeback to win 25-23 and take a 2-1 lead in the match. Furman dominated in the second set, however, holding the Tigers to a .086 hitting percentage and taking the set, 25-13, to force a fifth.
The teams traded points early in the fifth set until, with the score tied at 10, the Paladins used a 5-2 run to finish off the Tigers, 15-12, and take the match, 3-2.
In Saturday night's Carolina Classic Championship match, the Paladins came out with all the momentum, taking a 1-0 lead against South Carolina after a dominant 25-14 set victory. Set two was tight from the opening serve, as the teams traded points until Furman earned match-point at 24-22. South Carolina used a furious comeback to tie the match at 24, then the teams traded points until South Carolina used two-straight to finally end the marathon set, 30-28, and tie the match at one.
Furman used a 6-2 run to open up a 14-10 lead in set three, then continued to add to its lead, forcing a South Carolina timeout after taking a 21-14 lead. The Paladins were able to hold off any form of a South Carolina comeback in the set, taking it 25-17 for a 2-1 match lead.
The teams again traded points in set four, until South Carolina took a 20-19 lead. The Paladins rallied, however, to regain the lead at 21-20. Then, with the score tied at 22, Furman used kills by Taina Joseph and Christen Sikora to take the set, 25-22, and the match, 3-1.
The Paladins are back in action next weekend as they travel to Bowling Green, Ky., for the Holiday Inn University Plaza Invitational, hosted by Western Kentucky.
Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team
Jo Wilks – Furman – MVP
Christen Sikora – Furman
Taina Joseph – Furman
Dessaa Legros – South Carolina
Megan Kirkland – South Carolina
Keelie Arneson – Clemson
Lourdes Rosario - Winthrop