Lady Bucs force Furman to rally for SoCon win

Photo by Dave Boyd
ETSUĂ•s Katie Steidle is poised for a strike on the ball.

By Seth Bartee
JOHNSON CITY--The Furman Paladins took a ride down the comeback highway Wednesday as they came back from two games down to beat the Lady Bucs' volleyball team in three straight games.
The Lady Bucs (4-16, 2-6 SoCon) started out the evening with two wins. The first game was highlighted by key blocks coming from ETSU freshman Jen Sartor.
Furman looked confused and in disarray in the first game, losing handily 30-20. ETSU held the lead the whole first game, starting off with a point from freshman outside hitter Kelsey Sherich. Sherich is among the Southern Conference leaders for freshmen with 3.05 kills per game.
In the second game the Lady Bucs trailed for most of the way until they tied it up 21-21. Led by junior outside hitter Karen Freeburg, ETSU won 30-27.
Defensively, Freeburg averages 3.34 digs per game and recorded her team-leading fifth double-double of the season versus Elon.
"I'm not disappointed in our performance today," said ETSU head coach Lindsey Devine. "Furman is 6-3 in the Southern Conference and we are a very young team."
The third game was the turning point for both teams. After the Paladins came out of the locker room, they played like they wanted revenge. The game went back and forth as Bucs senior middle blocker Lissa Allen scored some important points for ETSU.
Furman eventually won the third game 39-37 after the Lady Bucs deflected a Furman hit and lost on a net ball.
"This is a learning process for us," said Devine. "We are climbing but I'm pleased that we are playing as a team."
In game four, Lady Paladins freshman outside hitter Liz Hilliker took over. Hilliker led her high school squad to three state championships and she was a three-time first team all-state selection. Furman won game four 30-27 in an amazing comeback against a young Bucs volleyball squad.
Hilliker continued to dominate in game five as she ended the game with a kill. The Paladins won the last game 15-11. Furman moved to 7-3 in the Southern Conference with this win while ETSU fell to 2-6.
"It takes time to build a team," said Devine, who said her first season as ETSU's volleyball coach has been good because of all the support she has had.
Sherich had the most kills for the Lady Bucs with 23, and Natalie Pittenger led the team in digs with 16.
The Lady Bucs will take on Wofford Sunday at 1 p.m. in Brooks Gym. Wofford is 1-7 in SoCon play in the South Division. This game will be part of this weekend's homecoming for ETSU.