BOSTON – College of Charleston overcame a 1-0 deficit to come back and defeat Northeastern, 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-22), and give CofC its first win in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The match pitted the top two teams from the CAA’s preseason poll and the 2012 Player of the Year in NU’s Kelly Bacon and 2013 Preseason Player of the Year in Charleston’s Darcy Dorton.
Charleston (11-4, 1-0) played outstanding defense throughout the match to hold the Huskies (7-7, 0-1) to a .137 hitting percentage. The win snapped Northeastern’s 23-match home winning streak that dated back to September 2011.
CofC’s 67 digs were the most in a four-set match this season as three different players reached double figures in digs. The Cougars also made 11 blocks in an outstanding defensive effort.
"I thought we dealt with all of the distractions of travel and a new opponent and venue really well," head coach Jason Kepner. "We started a little slow, but finished well. Our defensive effort was stellar against a very good Northeastern team."
Dorton led Charleston with a primetime performance, tallying 14 kills and a match-high 17 digs for her fourth double-double of the season. Sloane White tallied 15 kills and hit .333 and CofC’s other right-sider Cara Howley had 11 kills for a .500 hitting percentage. Melissa Morello was also efficient on the outside, making nine kills with only one error.
Charleston’s setters were clutch on the backline as Taeler Davis and Kallie McKown each tallied 14 digs. Davis finished with 27 assists and McKown had 16 for two setter double-doubles.
Bacon led the Huskies with 16 kills and 11 digs for 20 points. Jamie Bredahl had 12 kills with 16 assists, while Ina Kamenova had 29 assists.
The Cougars and Huskies played even volleyball through the first 34 points, tying at 17, with equal hitting numbers and percentages. Charleston took a 20-19 lead off a Howley kill, but Northeastern won the next three points to go up 22-20 and eventually win the set, 25-22. Dorton led CofC with five kills in the set, but also had four errors as Northeastern outhit CofC .256-.216.
Charleston rebounded well in the second set, building a 17-12 lead after kills from White and Howley. CofC’s defense played well to fend off any NU run and the Cougars continued to side out to a 22-16 lead. However, Northeastern saw a sliver of Cougar relaxation in the final points and made a rally to make things interesting, forcing a timeout at 23-20. The timeout settled CofC, however, and the defense forced a Bacon error followed by a Morello kill to end the set, 25-20.
Bolstered by 24 digs and a defense that limited Northeastern to a .024 hitting percentage, Charleston rolled to a 25-18 win in set three. After falling behind 6-3, CofC rallied with an 11-2 run to go up 14-8 and take control. The Huskies got within two points at 16-14, but Charleston was able to side out from there and two late aces from White put away the set. Dorton finished with five kills and six digs in the set, while Davis had 10 digs.
Despite CofC’s momentum with a 2-1 lead, the fourth set played close with seven ties. After an ace from Bacon tied the score at 19, the Cougars called timeout and regrouped effectively. Three straight kills from White and Howley gave the Cougars a 22-19 lead. A big block from Kerstin Koehler and Howley gave CofC match point and Howley ended the match with a big kill, 25-22.
Charleston heads to Long Island on Sunday for a conference match against Hofstra at 1 p.m.