GREENVILLE, S.C. - Sophomore middle blocker Sarah Havel (Carmel, Ind.) pounded 14 kills and junior setter Cole Dawley (Charleston, S.C.) notched a match-high 45 assists and 16 digs as the College of Charleston (17-12, 12-4) upset Samford (17-14, 11-5), the No. 1 seed from the North Division, 3-1 in the semifinals of the 2009 Southern Conference Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, November 21, 2009 in Greenville, S.C. The Cougars claimed the match by scores of 23-25, 26-24, 25-23 and 25-20 to advance to their eighth straight SoCon title match.
A battle from the very beginning, neither team would give an inch as Samford battled out to a 7-3 lead early in Game 1 before the Cougars came back with a pair of kills and a block to knot the score at 7-7. The teams then exchanged a pair of points before CofC used a 5-2 run to pull back ahead at 14-11. With the College of Charleston maintaining its three-point lead at 18-15, the Bulldogs mounted a rally of their own as they scored the next six points behind four kills, to take a three point lead of their own at 21-19. That would be all they would need as four more kills put the set away at 25-23.
After battling through three early ties and deadlocking at 5-5 at the start of the second set, the Cougars pounded out a 9-3 run behind several well placed kills and a series of Samford errors to take a 14-8 lead. The Bulldogs would not relinquish their match lead that easily however as they put together a 10-4 run, tying the set at 18-18. That was only a precursor to what was to come as the teams fought through six ties and three lead changes before a kill by junior right side hitter Ginny Phillips (Raleigh, N.C.) and a Bulldog error handed the College of Charleston a 26-24 victory and knotted the match at 1-1.
With a chance to take the lead in the match, both teams came out strong as they were not seperated by more than two points until the Cougars took a 10-7 lead on a kill by sophomore outside hitter Katie Robinson (Gainesville, Fla.). With the score at 15-10, CofC, Samford scored four straight points to close to within 15-14 but the College of Charleston answered right back with a 4-0 run of their own to make it 19-14.
With the score at 20-18 following a 4-1 run the Cougars pushed the lead to 22-18 before three kills from senior middle blocker Sheriden Stangohr fueled a 4-0 that tied the set at 22-22. They would not be able to pull ahead, however, as the College of Charleston notched a 3-1 run to take the set 25-23 and give themselves a 2-1 match lead.
Facing elimination, Samford battled out to ties of 10-10 and 13-13 in the fourth set before CofC put together a 4-0 run that gave them a 17-13 lead. After the Cougars had pushed their lead to 22-16, the Bulldogs notched back-to-back kills to close to 22-18 before kills by Dawley and senior middle blocker Jennifer Darty (Orlando, Fla.) helped the set, and the match, away at 25-20.
Senior middle blocker Sheriden Stangohr posted a stellar performance to lead Samford in her final match as she finished with a match-high 16 kills and five blocks while hitting .303 and freshman outside hitter Allie Bettinger delivered 14 kills and seven digs. Junior setter Hillary Fountain dished out 31 assists to pace the offense while freshman libero Alexis Bauer led the defense with 13 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Shelby Brandon added eight kills and senior defensive specialist Sarah Gardner notched nine digs.
Sarah Havel led the way for the College of Charleston with a team-high 14 kills and a match-best .481 hitting percentage while Cole Dawley posted her 11th double-double of the season with match-highs of 45 assists and 16 digs. Rounding out the double-digit kill performances were sophomore middle blocker Elyse Chubb (Peachtree City, Ga.) and Katie Robinson with 10 kills apiece while Ginny Phillips had a very solid outing with nine kills, eight digs, six assists and four blocks. Jennifer Darty added seven kills, including the match-winner, while junior libero Paige Johnson (Sleepy Hollow, Ill.) finished with 11 digs.
The victory sends the Cougars to their eighth straight Southern Conference Championship Match where they will face off against 26-3 Furman who defeated Appalachian State by a 3-0 score earlier in the day. It will also be a rematch of the 2008 title game in which the Paladins pulled out a narrow 3-2 victory with a 16-14 decision in the fifth set. First serve is set for 2 p.m. in Alley Gymnasium on the campus of Furman University in Greenville, S.C.
The College of Charleston will be appearing in its eighth straight Southern Conference Championship match ... the Cougars began their run in 2001 and have claimed five titles in seven tries, including four in a row from 2004-07 ... the championship match against Furman will be a rematch of the 2008 title match ... the Paladins claimed that contest by a narrow 3-2 score in Greensboro, N.C.