The ETSU volleyball team fell in a hard-fought Southern Conference final Sunday, Nov. 18, to Samford in Greensboro, N.C. Samford won 3-1 in four sets (28-26, 20-25, 25-21, 26-24).

Junior Leah Clayton (Danville, Virginia) led the Bucs in the final with 24 kills, 15 digs and four blocks. ETSU senior AJ Lux (Shelbyville, Indiana) had 20 kills, three digs and three blocks. Krista Boesing and Laura Deaton led Samford with 17 kills each.

The Bucs claimed their spot in the SoCon Championship after defeating Citadel 3-0 (25-19,25-12,25-22) and Mercer 3-0 (25-14, 25-20, 26-24) Saturday, Nov. 17.

The Bucs faced Citadel in the SoCon Quarterfinals on Friday, Nov. 16.

The first set would end with the Bucs winning 25-19 with the help of Clayton and Lux, who gave the Bucs six kills each, while senior Alyssa Kvarta (Crown Point, Indiana) had 11 assists and sophomore Marija Popavic (Belgrade, Serbia) with 11 digs.

The Bucs lead the second set with the help of a 4-0 service run from Popovic. The Bulldogs would soon come within one point of turning the lead, but with the help of a dominating service line from Kvarta the Bucs advanced the lead 11-4. This sparked an impressive 21-9 lead over the Bulldogs that ended with a 25-12 set.

The Bucs would continue the lead into the fourth set and defeat the Bulldogs 3-0 advancing into the semifinals against the Bears.

“We learned how to keep our composure, work through our own errors and have tunnel vision focused on getting to the final,” said Clayton.

The first set of the semifinals began with an intense back-and-forth between the two teams to lead the scoreboard, but a 4-0 run gave the Bucs the lead 9-6 with kills from senior Braedyn Tutton (Courtice, Ontario) and Lux.

The Bucs would hold the Bears to 14 points and win the first set 25-14 with the help of serve runs from Popavic and Kvarta, along with the six kills made by Lux.

The Bears would come back the next two sets putting the Bucs in moments of pressure, but that wasn’t enough to give them the final lead. Nineteen ties and nine lead changes in the third set ended in the Bucs favor with kills by Lux, Tutton, Clayton and senior Mariah McPartland (Boone, Iowa) ending the final set 26-24.