CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern closed out the final day of the 2012 Willie Jewell's Volleyball Invitational falling to both Mercer and Furman in straight sets as the Buccaneers fall to 2-5 overall on the season.
"Overall from this weekend, I think we can take some good things out of the two five-set wins we had," commented Givens on the tournament as a whole. "We had several great individuals who had strong performances in Sydney Tracy and Erin LaVenice among others. We'll rebound and regroup over the weekend and continue to get ready for the remainder of the season."
Charleston Southern returns to the road on Tuesday, September 4th as the Buccaneers travel to Savannah, Ga. for a non-conference match against Savannah State University. First serve between the two opponents in Tiger Arena is set for 5 p.m.
Match One: Mercer 3,
Charleston Southern 0 (25-19, 31-29, 25-19)
Sydney Tracy continued to have the hot hand on the weekend for the Buccaneers, leading Charleston Southern with nine kills in the first match on the final day of the Willie Jewell's Volleyball Invitational and Ashley Higgenbothem added 12 digs, but Molly Locke led a Mercer offensive attack with 14 kills as the Bears topped the Buccaneers in the Buccaneer Fieldhouse, 25-19, 31-29, 25-19.
Katrina Houston added six kills as Charleston Southern hit .102 from the floor as a team in the match. Erin LaVenice added five kills and three blocks, while Tracy and Higgenbothem had two service aces apiece as the Buccaneers fell for the first time at home in the 2012 season.
"Hats off to Mercer, I think they stayed the course and played really, really tough out there on the floor today," commented CSU head coach Al Givens after the match. "The second game was a huge momentum builder and really swung the game. Whoever won that set had to feel good about themselves and losing it was a bit of an emotional letdown for our team. We've got to learn that those things happen and make sure we respond with the same fight and determination that brought us to that point."
CSU opened the scoring in the match as Tracy connected on two kills early to put the Bucs up 4-1. Mercer rallied back as the teams swapped the lead four times and were tied 10 times in a tightly contested frame. Mercer came back from a 15-13 deficit to take a 20-17 lead following a Charlayna Braxton kill off the assist from Monica Sanchez and Jamie Duffy closed out the set with a service ace as the Bears went up 1-0 after the 25-19 victory.
The second set featured six lead changes and 15 ties in the frame as neither team was able to build the two-point edge needed to record the win. Charleston Southern held the first advantage following a Tracy kill, but Duffy and Madison Petsos answered with a block to even the frame at 25 apiece. CSU held set point three times before Mercer rallied behind a pair of kills by Caroline Carlton to take the 31-29 victory and 2-0 lead.
In the final set Mercer built a five point lead at 18-13 following a CSU attack error and though the Buccaneers rallied to cut the lead back to within four following a solo block by LaVenice, the Bears held on to complete the sweep with the 25-19 win.
Cassidy Greer and Kirsten Struksnes combined for 23 set assists in the match, while Tracy added seven digs on the backline as the Buccaneers suffered their first home loss in the friendly confines of the Buccaneer Fieldhouse in 2012.
"We're still clawing, fighting and scrapping along the way, but there still is definitely room for us to grow as the season progresses," said Givens about the team's effort in the match. "There is a lot of good things that we can build off of, even in a loss, and it gives us a little bit more determination as we move forward. There's three phases to every season; preseason, conference and postseason. Everything we're doing right now is getting us ready for the conference season."
Match Two: Furman 3,
Charleston Southern 0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-13)
Katrina Houston led CSU with eight kills in the final match of the Willie Jewell's Volleyball Invitational as Charleston Southern closed out the two-day, nine match event against Furman University. However, backed by double-digit kill efforts by Chandler Ambrester and Christina Dorismond, the Paladins hit .452 from the floor in recording the three set sweep, 25-16, 25-15, 25-13.
Wynter Davis added four blocks in the match, while Tracy contributed four kills and six digs as the Buccaneers hit .107 from the floor against Furman. Kirsten Struksnes added 11 set assists, while Ashley Higgenbothem had eight digs to pace the Buccaneers' efforts.
"Furman is a really, really good team and they played a great match tonight," commented Givens on the final match of the weekend. "A lot of credit to them, but I'm more disappointed that we didn't show up and compete. Our kids are going to give you whatever they've got in every match, but we did not play with much heart this evening."
A 12-4 run on the back of three Dorismond kills gave the Paladins a 20-12 lead in the first set as Furman held off the Buccaneers late in going up 1-0 with the 25-16 victory.
The Paladins opened the second set with an 8-2 run to take control of the frame early. The Buccaneers battled back, staving off the set point twice on kills by LaVenice and Tracy off assists from Laura Grace Swindler, but Ambrester put the Paladins up 2-0 with the final kill of the 25-15 set win.
Natalie Braun served the Paladins to a 9-0 run in the third set as Furman went up by as many as 12 in the final frame. Houston added a pair of late kills in the match, but Christina Curry ended the contest with a kill for the final point of the 25-13 Furman victory.
"Monday will be a 'get your attention' kind of practice for us, and we'll watch some film, learn from it and continue to get better," said Givens. "Ashley (Johnston) came in and gave us a good game, sparking us defensively, but we need to continue to work on our passing as we progress into the rest of the season."