For the first time since the season-ending loss in the Southern Conference tournament, the Elon University volleyball team took on Furman University with a chip on its shoulder.

For three sets, that emotion got the better of the Phoenix. Elon gave up four errors during a 6-0 run for the Paladins in the second set, a hole they couldn’t get out of. A service error helped Furman down Elon in a backbreaking 31-29 third set.

Screen shot 2013-10-26 at 12.30.42 AMThe final two sets had Elon with its back against the wall, but unlike sets two and three, when the Phoenix had a lead, they preserved it. That made all the difference as Elon avenged last year’s loss to Furman on Friday, Oct. 25, 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 29-31, 25-23, 16-14).

The Phoenix are now 5-4 in conference play while Furman falls to 7-2 in the Southern Conference. Thirty-six total ties occurred in the first three sets while just 14 occurred in the last two sets, thanks in large part to the Elon defense. Senior defensive specialist Maggie Reichard led the Phoenix with 27 digs and was on the court for the entirety of the game.

“Maggie played incredible tonight,” said head coach Mary Tendler. “She had so many key saves in those last few sets and we got good scoring opportunities because of her defense.”

“I’m just so glad we could get a win on our home court tonight,” Reichard said. “Everyone played so hard out there, and the crowd helped us out, especially late.”

Furman led 10-8 in the fifth set after a kill by freshman middle blocker Ashton Gregory. Senior right-side hitter Cali Estes worked the Paladins for the rest of the set, getting three kills and assisting on the game-winning score from sophomore outside hitter Megan Gravley.

“I guess you could call it a statement win,” Tendler said. “I’m just so proud of the way we finished. Furman has been playing great recently, so we knew it would be a battle coming in.”

Estes led Elon with 21 kills and added three service aces and 12 assists. Gravley chipped in 19 kills and two blocks. Sophomore setter Ana Nicksic had 34 assists and four digs.

For Furman, senior middle blocker Christina Dorismond had 18 kills and three blocks. Senior defensive specialist Elle Ross contributed 27 digs. Sophomore setter Jo Wilks tallied 26 assists and four points.

The Phoenix will take on Wofford College Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. in the annual Pink Day match.

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