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Monday, Sep 27, 2021

Volleyball 2-5 with conference play looming

After one of their best starts in nearly a decade, the Mercer women’s volleyball team saw a short-lived win streak before dropping four straight contests. The Bears are now 2-5 on the year and are looking to improve in upcoming games to better their record before entering into an important and competitive conference schedule.
The first weekend saw the Bears travel to Charleston, South Carolina for the Charleston Southern Tournament hosted by Charleston Southern University.
In their first match-up under Head Coach Damian Elder, the volleyball team lost a four set heartbreaker to a talented Furman University squad. In the first set, the Bears came out to play defeating the Paladins of Furman by just two points 25-23. Despite coming out on fire, Elder’s squad dropped the next three sets (21-25, 22-25, 16-25).
Statistics were incomplete because of a technical issue during the match, but based on the reported statistics freshman Molly Locke led the team with nine kills in the loss.
Not only did Locke lead the team in kills, but she also led the team in digs recording 12 on the afternoon. Senior Codi Schepp and junior Emily Rochefort each were able to accumulate 10 digs in the losing effort.
After video review, full statistics from this match up will be available at a later date.
Despite losing the first match of the year, the team would not let this deter them from gaining their first win of the year and the first program victory under Damian Elder’s leadership against a formidable opponent from Canisius College.
The Orange and Black dropped the first set (18-25) but were able to take control of the next three (25-19, 25-22, 25-20) in a rousing fashion.
The Bears were once again led by freshman Molly Locke. Locke registered an astounding team-leading 16 kills in the first win of the season.
The College Grove, Tennessee native was also able to contribute nine digs. Locke was also able to contribute four block assists to a team block total of 10. Senior captain Charlayna Braxton also registered four block assists as well as a solo block, while senior teammates Jenn Katona and Monica Sanchez each contributed three block assists.
Sanchez narrowly missed her first double-double of the year and dished out 33 assists and contributed nine digs. Rochefort, junior libero, had a team-high 20 digs and added six assists of her own.
The final match of the Charleston Southern Tournament was against the hosts from Charleston Southern. The Bears won the match convincingly in three sets (25-19, 31-29, 25-19).
Yet again, freshman Molly Locke led the offensive charge for the Bears, knocking down 14 kills. Locke earned her first double-double of the year by amassing 14 digs. Monica Sanchez was able to dish out 35 assists, and libero Emily Rochefort tallied 20 digs to help the team get their second straight win.
After the tournament ended both Locke and Sanchez were honored with All-Tournament honors.
Leaving the tournament with an impressive 2-1 record in their first weekend of play, the team headed to a non-conference tilt against in-state rival, Georgia Southern. The Bears lost a hard fought match against the Eagles of Georgia Southern in three sets (25-22, 25-18, 25-21).
Senior captain Jamie Duffy had a game-high 21 digs along with seven kills to pace the Bears in the losing effort. Freshman Molly Locke also tallied seven kills to go along with 10 digs, two assists, a service ace and a block.  Senior Monica Sanchez had her fourth-straight game with 20 or more assists, dishing out 23 helpers while also adding six digs, two block assists, a kill and a service ace.
Coach Elder and his team then headed to the Georgia State Invitational where they dropped all three matches in one weekend, losing to South Alabama University, Georgia State University and Samford University.
Against South Alabama, the Bears lost a well battled four-set match. After losing the first two sets (22-25, 18-25), the team rallied back and won the third set 25-19. Despite the momentum swing, they were unable to pull out a win and lost the fourth and final set 22-25.
Senior Jamie Duffy earned a double-double by hammering out 11 kills as well as collecting 22 dig. Freshman Molly Locke also posted a double-double with a match-high 15 kills and 13 digs. Senior Monica Sanchez recorded a match-high 43 assists in the loss, while junior Emily Rochefort notched a team-high 24 digs.  Senior Jenn Katona was credited with seven block assists, contributing to Mercer’s 8-5.5 team block advantage.
The team then took on Georgia State losing three sets to one. The Bears won the first set 25-18 but then lost the next three (23-25, 15-25, 21-25).
Mercer freshman Molly Locke led the way with an impressive 17-kill, 17-dig double-double effort. Senior Monica Sanchez also contributed a double-double against the Panthers on the strength of 40 assists and 11 digs.
The team then went to face Samford, a 2011 NCAA tournament team. They lost all three sets to the Bulldogs (16-25, 22-25, 31-33).
Duffy led the way for Mercer with 10 kills and only two errors.  The Bears split time at the setter position, with Carly Iannarino and Sanchez combining for 31 kills.
For her performance at the Georgia State Invitational, Jamie Duffy earned All-Tournament team honors.
The next stop for the Bears is the Winthrop Classic where the team will take on Winthrop University, Western Carolina University, and North Carolina A&T. The matches will take place on Sept. 14 and 15.
After that, the team will head back to Mercer for their home opener against ETSU on Sept.  18.


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