CULLOWHEE, N.C. - The Western Carolina volleyball team hosted the top ranked team in the Southern Conference for senior night Saturday inside the Ramsey Center. WCU started all five seniors in the opening set and dropped a close 30-28 opening period. WCU would win the second set before dropping the third and fourth for a 3-1 loss. Senior Katie O'Connor saved her best career match for her last regular season contest inside the Ramsey Center. O'Connor registered a career-high 21 kills in the loss which topped her previous career mark of 16. She also had zero errors on 31 swings for a .677 attack percentage. The mark is the fifth-highest single match attack percentage in program history.
O'Connor was the lone Catamount in double-figures and she also added four blocks to her total including one solo stop. Sophomore Aleah Keaton added nine kills and four blocks from the other middle blocker position as the Catamounts dominated the middle.
The loss drops WCU's record to 10-17 overall and 5-9 in conference play. The Paladins improved to a league-best 12-2 in SoCon action and 18-9 overall.
Senior Jo-Leigh VerVelde added another double-double to her career as she had 46 assists and 12 digs in the loss. Sophomore libero Meagan Sanchez had a team-high 24 digs. Freshman Hannah Price led the team in blocks with five including one solo stop.
Senior Gabby Edmondson tallied five kills on nine attack in the opening set for a .556 attack percentage in her limited action. She also had five digs in the period.
Furman had three hitters with double-figure kills including Nicole Mack who led the way with 21.
WCU hit. 207 as a squad while the Paladins turned in a .261 attack percentage. WCU won the block battle 12 to six while Furman edged the Catamounts in digs 82-74.
Despite not starting its regular lineup the Catamounts hung in early against the Paladins. With the score knotted at 20 in the opening set head coach Karen Glover substituted the rest of her regular starters into the lineup. The battle for the set would go into extra points as WCU had two set points in the period while Furman tallied three before securing the set on their fourth attempt at 30-28.
The second set was back-and-forth for the majority of the period but a 6-2 run over the final eight points gave WCU the 25-21 victory. O'Connor accounted for three of the final six points as she had a pair of kills and a block.
The third set was all Furman as the Paladins led wire-to-wire for a 25-22 victory. Furman held a seven point advantage, 17-10, in the set and WCU battled back to cut that lead to just two at 24-22 but Furman picked up the final point for the victory and 2-1 lead.
The fourth set was very similar to the third with Furman controlling most of the action. Once again WCU found itself trailing 17-10 and eventually battled back to cut the deficit to 21-18. Furman would score four of the final seven points to take a 25-21 win and 3-1 match victory.
The Catamounts will now hit the road for their final two regular season contests before returning to Cullowhee for the 2017 Southern Conference Championships, Nov. 17-19.