CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston overcame strong defensive play from James Madison to remain perfect in CAA play with a 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 26-24, 25-22) win over the Dukes from TD Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Charleston (17-4, 7-0) only hit. 175 for the match, but the Cougars were able to make several big plays late in sets to defeat JMU (8-12, 3-4) in a relatively even match statistically.
The Dukes made 14 blocks in the four sets, and tallied one more dig than the Cougars (75-74), but Charleston won the battle for kills (59-53) to win the match.
Four different CofC players reached double digits in kills, led by Darcy Dorton’s 13 terminations, including match point. However, it was Emily Neideffer with the most effective offensive play, reaching 12 kills with only two errors for a .312 attack percentage. Cara Howley had 12 kills and a .258 hitting mark, while Melissa Morello made 10 kills and 14 digs.
Through the long defensive rallies, Andi Zbojniewicz kept balls alive all over the court, tallying a career high with 28 digs. She posted 20 digs on Friday night to finish the weekend with 6.9 digs per set.
JMU’s Kate Whitmire led the Dukes with 15 kills and Lizzy Briones added 13 kills. Four different players had double-digit digs, led by Megan Niski’s 17 digs.
Both teams’ offenses were unstoppable in the first set as the Cougars hit .378 and the Dukes countered with a .359 attack mark. The score was tied at 20 and again at 22 before a Howley kill put the Cougars ahead. However, Howley committed a service error on the next play to let JMU tie it again at 23. Dorton tallied a kill on the outside and then Taeler Davis made an ace to win the first set, 25-23.
JMU played strong and CofC came apart in the second set, allowing JMU to build a 17-6 lead. Charleston was able to chip into the lead late with kills from Howley and Dorton, but JMU iced the set with a kill from Janey Goodman to win it 25-19.
The third set played like the first with no team building any advantage. Goodman gave the Dukes set point at 24-23, but Howley responded with a kill off a slide to tie it at 24. Maddie Hills and Neideffer came up big off of JMU’s next touch with a double block on the outside to give CofC the advantage. Neideffer then put it away with a solo block in the middle to give CofC a 26-24 victory.
The Dukes tied CofC late at 18-18 in the fourth set, but Charleston used a Morello kill followed by an ace from Kallie McKown and a JMU error to go up 21-18. CofC salted away the match with a kill from Dorton, an ace from Morello and another kill from Dorton, 25-22.
CofC will only play one match next weekend as travel partner UNCW comes to town for a Saturday afternoon match.