NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – Top-seeded College of Charleston swept fifth-seeded Hofstra 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-21) in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament semifinals to advance to the CAA volleyball title match.
The Cougars (24-5) never trailed past a 3-2 margin in any set, and hit .337 to down the Pride (17-15). CofC terminated 42 kills and made six blocks.
It was a day for lucky number 13 as the win guaranteed College of Charleston its 13th-straight appearance in a conference tournament title match. The Cougars won the CAA regular season with a 13-1 conference record. The sweep was also the 13th sweep of the season, led by Darcy Dorton’s 13 kills.
“I was very happy with how we came out of the gate,” head coach Jason Kepner said. “We had not played a match yet in the tournament and Hofstra had a little more experience on the court. But we executed our game plan and had a balanced attack with great play from pin to pin. I am excited for the title match tomorrow and hope that our fans can give us a great environment.”
The CAA Player of the Year, Dorton hit .333 on her way to a team-high 13 terminations. Sophomore Melissa Morello finished with 10 kills and eight digs, hitting .360.
Junior Sloane White made seven kills, including her seventh match-winner of the season, exciting the crowd with a monster kill. Senior Emily Neideffer made six kills on nine swings (.667) and classmate Kerstin Koehler finished with three blocks. Andi Zbojniewicz led the Cougars with 11 digs.
Hofstra’s Nuria Lopes da Silva played valiantly for the Pride, launching 15 kills for a hitting percentage of .321. All-CAA First Teamer Kelsie Wills had eight kills, but made five errors for a .136 attacking mark.
Hofstra hung with the Cougars in the first set, just trailing 15-12 after a CofC ball-handling error. But Charleston responded with a 6-1 run, punctuated by a pair of kills from Morello to lead 21-13. Hofstra was never able to recover in the first set and a Koehler kill gave the Cougars a 25-18 win.
Cara Howley ran the Cougars to an 8-0 lead off her serve in the second set, which included two aces. Hofstra’s Lopes da Silva worked the Pride back into it with a kill that cut the margin to 11-8. Charleston cut the momentum short after a Hofstra error, using three kills and a block from Morello to quickly put the lead back at 18-8. Charleston could not put the set away, however, and Wills and Lopes da Silva mounted a Hofstra comeback to cut the margin to 23-18. Koehler again dashed the Pride’s hopes with a kill and CofC won the second set, 25-19.
The third set started evenly but Charleston turned a 15-10 lead into a 20-12 advantage with strong play from Dorton. The Pride would not go away yet again, making things touch and go at 23-20. A Wills error gave Charleston match point at 24-20 and some dramatic digs from Zbojniewicz kept a rally alive for White’s match-winning kill.
Charleston will play Northeastern in the CAA Championship Match on Sunday at 1 p.m. from the North Charleston Convention Center.