CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston (7-0) defeated Indiana (5-1) to cap off a perfect weekend and win the Hampton Inn CofC Invitational championship trophy.
After losing the first set, CofC rallied to win 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-21) and stay undefeated on the season. The win marked Charleston’s first program victory over a Big 10 school and the second-best start to a season after the 2005 squad started 8-0.
Darcy Dorton was named Tournament MVP for her stellar play in the final match over the school from her native state. The Muncie, Ind., product ripped a season-high 18 kills and an attack mark of .341 to lead all hitters. She finished the weekend with 34 kills for an average of 4.25 per set.
Junior libero Andi Zbojniewicz was spectacular on the backline, gathering 16 digs and earning All-Tournament team honors. Her defense in the second, third and fourth sets help limit the Hoosiers to just .166 hitting as Charleston pulled away. Sophomore Melissa Morello also made the All-Tournament team with 10 kills and seven digs and an attack mark of .318.
“I was so pleased with our overall effort tonight,” head coach Jason Kepner said. “We were consistent with our offense all night, and then made defensive adjustments after the first set. The energy of the team and the atmosphere of the building made tonight a really special program win. I’m so proud of our team and what they’ve accomplished so far this season.”
Cara Howley added 11 kills after a slow start, and Kerstin Koehler turned was a spark plug at the net, slamming seven kills and making four blocks. Emily Neideffer recorded seven kills and Sloane White had six to round out the Cougar offense. Kallie McKown finished with a match-high 29 assists and Taeler Davis added 23 in the 6-2 offensive set.
Indiana’s Morgan Leach and Caitlin Hansen won All-Tournament honors for Indiana. Hansen had 11 digs while Leach had a team-high 13 kills. The Hoosiers hit .238 as a team, while the Cougars out dug Indiana 45-35.
Indiana built a slim margin in the first set and was able to side out effectively and keep Charleston at bay throughout. The Hoosiers hit .500 and sided out at a clip of 81 percent to maintain their lead and eventually take 25-22 set one win.
Charleston made defensive adjustments for the second set and built an 11-6 lead after kills from Howley and Koehler. IU pulled it to 17-15, but then made two crucial errors to lose momentum and Charleston cruised to victory with emphatic kills by Dorton, 25-18.
CofC’s momentum did not abate in the third set and the Cougars were quickly ahead 5-1. Indiana responded to tie the game at eight, but Charleston ran again with an 8-3 run punctuated by a kill from Dorton. The Cougars sided out with efficiency and Indiana could never recover, eventually falling 25-18 in the third.
With a tournament title in their sights, Charleston never wavered in the fourth set, using a 9-1 run to build a 12-6 lead. After falling behind 19-11, Sherry Dunbar’s Hoosiers showed life by using an 8-3 run to cut the score to 22-19. An IU attack error gave the Cougars set point and three points later, White ended the match with her patented slide.
College of Charleston heads to California next week for a tournament with Seattle, Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount on campuses in Los Angeles.