CHARLESTON, S.C. – College of Charleston needed four sets to down last-place Towson (8-22, 1-10), but the Cougars’ defense came to play and CofC won a 3-1 decision (23-25, 25-14, 25-21, 25-20).
Charleston (20-4, 10-0) reached 20 wins for the sixth time in the last seven years under head coach Jason Kepner, and the Cougars remained one of just 11 teams in Division I volleyball with an undefeated conference record.
With Northeastern’s loss on Friday night, College of Charleston opened a three-game lead in the CAA standings, meaning that the Cougars can clinch the regular-season title next weekend on Senior Day.
Against Towson, the Cougars hit a blistering .321 and held an eight-kill advantage. Charleston outdug the Tigers, 55-35, and tied a season high with 13 blocks. However, Towson was able to win a set and push CofC at times through the serving game, where CofC committed eight service errors and the Tigers had eight aces.
Darcy Dorton tallied 18 kills against just one error for a .531 attacking percentage. She had the most kills in a four-set match since her equaled effort against Indiana back on Sept. 7. She also set a new career high in attacking percentage. She added nine digs and three blocks.
Kerstin Koehler tied her career high with 10 blocks and eight kills, turning back Tiger attacks all over the net. Middle blocker companion Emily Neideffer finished with 10 kills and one block in the win.
Kari Fidelholtz got the start for CofC and played well, tallying season highs in kills (8) and digs (12). She also added two blocks. Andi Zbojniewicz continued her torrid play against CAA foes, digging another 16 balls to keep her CAA-only average at 4.0 digs per set.
Three Towson players reached double figures in kills, led by Saitaua Iosia’s 11 kills. Dayane Van Ass and Victoria Williams each had 10 kills. Paige Sekerak had only nine digs after entering the weekend averaging 4.07 per set.
The Tigers opened a 19-14 lead late in the first set after several CofC errors in the net and in the service game. Charleston then rallied with a fury to pull within 20-19 after a Dorton kill. The teams traded points throughout the final plays, but after a Koehler kill forced 24-23, Towson’s Williams put the set away with a clinching kill.
CofC opened things up in the second set with a .538 hitting percentage and the Cougars sided out on 11 of 14 opportunities. Dorton and Fidelholtz each had five kills with no errors to lead Charleston to a 25-14 win.
Nursing an 18-16 lead in the third, CofC’s Koehler had a huge solo rejection followed by a Towson error and a Koehler kill to break open a 21-16 lead. Towson responded but four ugly service errors between the two teams set up Neideffer to end things on set point with a kill, 25-21.
Charleston looked to be cruising to the win with a 17-11 lead in the fourth, but the Tigers rallied yet again with two blocks to pull to 18-17. Koehler and Fidelholtz responded with kills and Dorton helped close out the win, 25-20.
The Cougars close out the home season next weekend with a match against Hofstra on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by Senior Day on Sunday vs. Northeastern at 1 p.m.