After two three-set wins against Kennesaw State and USC Upstate and some help in other conference match-ups, the Mercer women’s volleyball team claimed a spot in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament as the number six seed under first year head coach, Damian Elder.
The Bears traveled to host Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. to face the number three seeded Buccaneers from East Tennessee State University. Previously in the season, the Orange and Black split their two matches against the Bucs picking up a 3-0 win at home in Hawkins Arena while dropping the away match 1-3 at ETSU.
With both teams picking up wins against each other during the season, either team could end up on the victorious end to face the regular season conference champions, Florida Gulf Coast University, in the semifinal round.
Prior to the tournament, the Bears garnered two All-Conference selections. Junior Emily Rochefort earned a second team spot in her libero position. Rochefort led the conference in digs per set (5.33), collecting 554 in 104 sets of play.
The second player to earn All-Conference recognition and named to the All-Freshman team was freshman star, Molly Locke. Locke, an outside hitter, paced the team in kills with 343 on the season. During the regular season, she posted 14 double-doubles as well as garnering 15 kills in nine matches.
This was the first time since 2008 that more than one Bear had gained All-Conference recognition, and the team looked poised to make a run at the title.
The Mercer women’s volleyball team dropped their match in the first round of the tournament 3-0 (25-22, 25-15, 25-19) pushing them out of contention for a conference championship title.
In the first set, Mercer trailed 20-19 before the ETSU ripped off three-straight points to take control. In the second set, Mercer led 2-0 before the Lady Bucs went on 7-1 and never looked back en route to the set victory. In the third set, the teams were tied 10-10 when ETSU posted a 9-3 run to create separation.
Freshman Molly Locke and sophomore Caroline Carlton combined for 22 kills on the night, knocking down 11 each in the losing effort.
Junior Emily Rochefort led the team with 15 digs while Locke and senior Jamie Duffy each added eight apiece.
Senior setter, Monica Sanchez dished out 30 assists in the match.
Senior Charlayna Braxton posted six blocks on the night while Caroline Carlton added four of her own.
With the loss, the Bears say goodbye to six seniors. Charlayna Braxton, Jamie Duffy, Jennifer Katona, Madison Petsos, Monica Sanchez and Codi Schepp all played in their final indoor volleyball matches in Mercer uniform.
Head coach Damian Elder and the rest of the squad will now set their sights on the program’s second sand volleyball season set to be played this spring.