The sweep avenged Samford's 3-0 win over College of Charleston in last season's SoCon Championship title match, held at Samford's Hanna Arena. College of Charleston (14-6, 6-1) snapped Samford's (14-7, 6-1) SoCon winning streak which had reached nine matches dating back to last season.
The win was decided by an all-around inspirational performance from the Cougars on offense, defense and in support from the bench. College of Charleston held a big edge in hitting percentage, racking up 41 kills with just 12 errors for a .309 mark while holding Samford to just .046. The Cougars outdug the Bulldogs 51-38, and held all Samford players to single digits in kills.
"It was a great match," head coach Jason Kepner said. "The team played with so much energy and so much excitement and they executed the game plan to perfection. Samford's a great team and we're fortunate to get this win. I'm so proud of everyone on the court and on the bench. The energy level was fantastic."
Darcy Dorton and Melissa Morello shared the offensive spotlight for CofC as the two racked up 12 and 11 kills, respectively, while combining for 19 digs and four blocks. Kerstin Koehler hit a sparkling .429 with seven kills while Sloane White made six kills and Emily Neideffer and had five to go with three blocks.
Samford's Michaela Reesor had nine kills, but also committed seven errors for a hitting mark of .065. Katie Murphy supplied eight kills from the middle, and Lauren Hutchinson had a hand in five blocks, but it wasn't enough to slow down the Cougar attack.
College of Charleston grabbed momentum early in the first set with a 6-0 run that turned an 8-7 deficit into a 13-8 lead. The Bulldogs clawed back to a two-point deficit at 16-14, but the Cougars came out strong from a timeout to sprint to a 21-15 lead after a Morello kill. Samford scored two points on CofC's set point but Dorton put the first set away with a kill, 25-18.
The second set played out nearly identically to the first. Both teams battled to a 7-7 tie before the Cougars scored nine of the next 12 points to build a 16-10 advantage. Samford fought back yet again to get to 17-14, but Morello and Dorton quickly deflated the visitors' momentum with two kills. Four Samford attack errors in the final six points gave Charleston a 25-18 set two win.
The senior-laden Bulldogs looked poised to fight on past the third set as they again tied the score in the early going at nine. But for the third and final time, College of Charleston went on a 9-1 run to excite the crowd and put the match out of reach. A kill from White unleashed the crowd's celebration as CofC took the third set, 25-16.
College of Charleston will continue at home tomorrow afternoon with a 5 p.m. match against Chattanooga.