HARRISONBURG, Va. – College of Charleston bounced back from a tough first set to defeat James Madison, 3-1 (22-25, 25-22, 28-26, 25-15), and stay undefeated in CAA play on Friday night.
The Cougars (13-4, 3-0) continued their strong road play behind a defense that dug 75 balls and made 12 blocks, holding JMU (6-9, 1-1) to .160 hitting.
In the first set, Darcy Dorton surpassed with 1,000 career kills with her 704th kill with CofC after tallying 296 at Penn State in 2009 and 2011. Dorton finished with 16 kills and 18 digs for her fifth double-double of the season.
Middle blocker Kerstin Koehler performed well with a career-high 14 kills along with six blocks. She hit .462 which was also a career-best mark for the redshirt-senior.
“Overall, we played a good match,” head coach Jason Kepner said. We were a little sloppy at the end of games and JMU did well to battle at end of games and put pressure on us. I’m happy to have three big conference road wins, and look to finish out the weekend tomorrow at William & Mary.”
The Dukes were led by Lizzy Briones and her 17kills, hitting .412 and making six blocks. MacKenzie Kleespies had 15 digs to lead JMU defensively.
College of Charleston built a nice lead in the first set with strong digging, stifling most JMU attacks and going up 16-12 after a kill from Dorton. CofC sided out to a 20-16 lead and looked to be in control, until the Dukes began rallying off Charleston mistakes. Two attack errors followed by a JMU kill brought the score to 20-19, and the Dukes’ Lizzy Briones scored again after a CofC timeout. The teams traded kills until two consecutive points by the home team forced set point and the Dukes won a long final rally for the first set, 25-22.
CofC used a 4-0 run with a kill and block from Emily Neideffer followed by a Cara Howley ace to build a 16-10 lead in the second set. The Dukes did not draw closer than three points until the very end of the set when JMU staved off three set points to draw to 24-22. However, White came out swinging from a Charleston timeout and ended it off the slide, 25-22. CofC hit .273 in the second set with five kills from White.
With a 20-13 lead in the third set, CofC looked on pace to win the set and the control of the match. But James Madison went on an improbable 11-3 run using kills and Charleston miscommunication to create set point at 24-23. However, White kept Charleston alive with a huge kill to send it to extra points. With a tie score at 26, Howley and Koehler sent back an attack at the net for a big block and Melissa Morello ended the set with a kill to silence the JMU faithful, 28-26.
The Cougars built yet another early lead in the fourth set, but did not relinquish a JMU run through the middle points. The Dukes could not come back after going down 20-15 with the Cougars scoring the final five points for a 25-15 set four victory. The Dukes had 10 errors in the final set thanks to three blocks from Emily Neideffer.
Charleston has yet another stop on its five-match CAA road trip, heading to William & Mary tomorrow for a 7 p.m. start.