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ETSU zips into second straight SoCon volleyball final

Johnson City Press • Nov 17, 2018 at 6:49 PM

GREENSBORO, N.C.—East Tennessee State has met little resistance in reaching the Southern Conference tournament’s championship match.

On Saturday, the top-seeded Bucs posted their second 3-0 sweep in as many days, defeating fourth-seeded Mercer 25-14, 25-20 and 26-24 in semifinal action at Fleming Gymnasium.

Chasing its second consecutive NCAA tournament berth, ETSU (28-5) defends its tournament title against Samford in Sunday’s 2 p.m. final. This will be the Bucs’ seventh championship match appearance.

Coming off Friday’s quarterfinal victory over The Citadel, the Bucs got 30 assists, five digs and two blocks from Alyssa Kvarta against Mercer (16-13). She moved into fifth place on ETSU’s all-time career list with 1,274.

Leah Clayton registered her 15th double-double, totaling 15 kills (.333 hitting percentage) and 10 digs. AJ Lux was also strong for the Bucs, recording 13 kills.

Braedyn Tutton finished with six kills, a .500 hitting percentage and four blocks. Marija Popovic tallied 10 digs and Kaela Massey seven, with each player adding two service aces as ETSU won in straight sets for the fifth consecutive match.

The Bucs have 18 sweeps for the season and are presently riding a 12-match win streak.

In the opening set Saturday, a 4-0 run with kills from Tutton and Lux sparked the Bucs offense as ETSU went ahead 9-6.

Popovic’s serve run helped the Bucs jump to a 14-8 lead before Kvarta served five straight to hold Mercer to 14 points. Lux clinched the set with her sixth kill of the match.

Massey helped the Bucs to a five-point lead early in the second set with her service run, which included an ace. ETSU would eventually go ahead by seven before Mercer cut its deficit to three at 17-14.

The Bucs held their three-point lead and then made a 4-0 run, leading them to set point. Lux would come through again, handing ETSU a 2-0 lead.

The final set went back and forth, evidenced by 19 ties and nine lead changes. Clayton helped the Bucs reach match point and Tutton put down the match-ending kill.

Samford, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, advanced with a 3-0 defeat (25-21, 25-18, 25-18) of third-seeded Furman.

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