January 31, 20211st2nd3rd4th5thFinal
.246Hitting Pct..189
138Total Attacks143
Olivia Cunningham - 24
KillsNeci Harris - 19
Emily Arnold - 50
AssistsKatie Murphy - 48
Sanne Maring - 3
Olivia Cunningham - 3
Emily Arnold - 3
AcesMikaela Schultz - 2
Sydney Cherney - 17
DigsAndrea Aceveda - 18
Lauren Hatch - 6
BlocksNeci Harris - 5
A Win Well Worth the Wait; Bucs Open 2021 with Win Over Paladins
Photo Credit: Jeremy Fleming/Furman Athletics
A Win Well Worth the Wait; Bucs Open 2021 with Win Over Paladins
Sunday, January 31, 2021

GREENVILLE, S.C. (Jan. 31, 2021) — The first win of the season is always something to celebrate, but when there’s 434 days in-between matches, it feels even better. ETSU’s volleyball team defeated the Furman Paladins in the 2021 spring opener 3-2 (25-16, 24-26, 25-19, 29-31, 15-6) on Sunday afternoon. 

How it happened:
Set 1 (25-16 ETSU): After the two teams traded off the first few points, ETSU went on a 6-1 run to take an 11-7 lead and never looked back. ETSU’s offense was precise as the Bucs hit .400 with 13 kills on 25 attempts in the frame. Olivia Cunningham (Knoxville, Tenn.) dominated the first set with a match-high five kills and Jenna Forster (Maryville, Tenn.) made her presence known early with four in her first collegiate match.

Set 2 (26-24 FUR): The Paladins came out strong in the second set taking an early 11-4 lead. Down 20-15, the Bucs came climbing back and tied the frame at 23 after two kills by Cunningham and a Paladins attack error. Out of a Paladins timeout, Furman had their first set point, but after a ball handling error the match was tied at 24. The Paladins tied the match at one set apiece with an ETSU attack error and kill by Furman’s Courtney Hoffman,

Set 3 (25-19 ETSU): ETSU used the second set as motivation and took a 10-5 lead in early in the third. Furman battled back in the middle of the frame and cut ETSU’s lead to two at 17-15 to force Coach Jenkins to call a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Bucs logged back-to-back kills and Furman took their first timeout of the frame down 19-15. The Bucs went on a 4-1 run out of the timeout off of four Paladin errors to take a 23-20 lead and they never looked back. The Bucs used two kills from Cunningham to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

Set 4 (31-29 FUR): The fourth set was the most completive of the match. The Blue and Gold started strong early with a 9-2 run, but Furman battled back with an 8-3 run of their own. The two teams were knotted up at 18 and it was back and forth from then on. The Bucs had three match points, but couldn’t convert. The Paladins used two Buccaneer errors to take the fourth set and force a fifth. Lauren Hatch (Homewood, Ill.) and Forster both had four kills in the set while Furman had five blocks in the frame.  

Set 5 (15-6 ETSU): The Blue and Gold flipped the script in the fifth. ETSU took a 3-0 lead in the final frame and never looked back. After an 9-2 run to open the set, the Bucs used three kills from Hatch and one from Cunningham to shut the door on the Paladins. ETSU held Furman to a .062 attack clip in the set while ETSU hit .400 with eight kills on 15 swings with just two errors.  

Key stats:

  • Cunningham, the reigning SoCon Freshman of the Year dominated the floor on Sunday afternoon with a match and career-high 24 kills on 48 swings to net a .354 hitting percentage. The Knoxville native added three aces, seven digs and a career best four blocks to complete her afternoon.
  • Hatch and Forster rounded out the three Bucs with double-digit kills on the afternoon. Hatch slotted 16 kills of her own, recorded six blocks and seven digs. Forster, in her first career start logged 11 kills and defensively had seven digs.
  • Emily Arnold (Louisville, Ky.) continued her success quarterbacking ETSU’s offense with 50 assists and added three aces to her line. In just her fourth career start at libero, Sydney Cherney (Knoxville, Tenn.) was strong in the back row with 17 digs and registered five assists.
  • In her first career match in Blue and Gold, Hofstra transfer Sanne Maring (Groningen, The Netherlands) recorded seven kills, three aces and five blocks.
  • ETSU narrowly out blocked Furman 12-11 while the Bucs were strong behind the service line with 14 aces.

Inside the numbers:

  • Arnold eclipsed the 50-assist mark for the fourth time in her career after doing it three times during her freshman year campaign.
  • Cunningham logged 20+ kills for the fourth time in her career and second against a SoCon opponent.
  • Dating back to last season, Hatch has recorded double-digit kills in 14 of her last 16 matches.  
  • The Blue and Gold have now won three straight season openers for the first time since 1988-1990.
  • This is the first time since 2013 that ETSU’s season opener went to five sets. The Bucs fell to UNCG on Aug. 30, 2013.
  • ETSU has won their last 19 SoCon road matches dating back to Oct. 22, 2017.
  • The Bucs lost the second set just eight times last season and were 3-5 in those matches. Alternatively, ETSU was 5-1 when losing the fourth set in 2019.
  • ETSU’s 14 service aces are the most for the squad since they had 14 at Morehead state on Sept. 18, 2015.

The Bucs and the Paladins face off again tomorrow at 6 p.m. in Greenville, S.C. The match will be streamed on ESPN+.

ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!

For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the volleyball page. Also, like us on Facebook at follow us on Twitter and Instagram @ETSUVolleyball.