DURHAM, N.C. – College of Charleston travels to No. 14 (16 seed) Duke this weekend to compete in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Tournament. CofC will play the ACC Champion Blue Devils on Friday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. That match is preceded by the 5:30 p.m. American/Georgia match. The winners of each bout will face each other on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. with a chance to advance to the Sweet 16.
CofC will be making its second-consecutive trip to the Tournament and eighth NCAA appearance in program history. The Cougars enter as the automatic qualifier out of the CAA after winning the Colonial regular season and conference tournament title.
Although the Cougars were competing in a new conference in 2013, their regular-season success did not surprise many as the coaches unanimously picked Charleston to win the regular season title before the season began.
Charleston went 13-1 in conference play, losing just one five-set match against Northeastern before sweeping through the conference tournament. CofC’s 8-0 start to the season, including wins over Georgia Tech and Indiana, tied the best season start in program history.
Dating back to 2001, the Cougars have won 13-straight regular season or conference tournament championships in the SoCon and CAA, a streak that ranks second in the nation behind Hawaii who won the Big West Conference this season.
Tickets are available for both rounds or for single sessions. Adult all-session packages run for $12, student/senior packages for $8 and children's packages for $6. Single session adult tickets cost $8, students/seniors $5 and children $4. Fans can purchase tickets online here.
Fans can watch free live video of each match through GoDuke.com and Duke’s live media portal. Live stats will also be available on Duke’s website, while Twitter updates will come from the official Charleston Volleyball account, @CofCVolleyball.
Scouting the Opposition
No. 14 Duke enters the tournament with the 16th overall seed, the lowest of the first-round host schools. The Blue Devils (27-4, 18-2) won the ACC championship, the 11th championship in program history. The Blue Devils are making their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in the past eight seasons and 18th NCAA postseason trip overall. Duke has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship in five of the past eight seasons. The Blue Devils last hosted the first two rounds in 2010, defeating High Point and Ohio en route to an NCAA quarterfinal appearance.
Duke is led by Emily Sklar who averages 3.96 kills per set with a .236 hitting percentage. Middle blocker Jordan Tucker hits a team-high .316 with 96 blocks, while Jeme Obeime averaged 3.23 kills (.291). The Blue Devils average 14.9 kills per set with a .249 attack percentage.
If the Cougars advance to the second round, they will face the winner of Georgia/American. The Bulldogs enter the tournament as an at-large team from the SEC where they went 22-9 and 11-7, the first 20-win season since 2002 and first NCAA appearance since 2004. American received the automatic bid out of the Patriot League with a 32-2 regular season record. It marks American’s 13th NCAA appearance in the last 17 years. The Eagles enter the first round riding a 14-match winning streak.
College of Charleston is 0-3 against Duke in Charleston’s D-I era (since 1991). The Cougars last played at Cameron in 2009 with a preseason tournament against Duke, Penn State and Loyola. The Cougars and Blue Devils share three common opponents with Duke going 4-0 against Ball State, Indiana and Georgia Tech.
College of Charleston lost its only matchup with Georgia, 3-1, coming back in 2004. The Cougars are also 0-1 all-time against American, playing in 1991.
NCAA Tournament History
College of Charleston will be making its eighth trip to the tournament in CofC’s 13-year run of conference championships. The Cougars are 2-7 all-time, winning first-round matches in 2005 and 2012. Charleston was the only school in the Southern Conference to ever win an NCAA Tournament match. Delaware is the most recent CAA representative to advance to the second round, doing so in 2011.
Both of College of Charleston’s NCAA wins came over ACC schools (UNC-2005; Miami-2012), and CofC’s only tournament experience in the state of North Carolina resulted in a victory in 2005.
Cougars Earn Top Honors
Redshirt-senior Darcy Dorton won the Conference Player of the Year award, redshirt-junior Kallie McKown won the Setter of the Year award and Jason Kepner won CAA Coach of the Year.
CofC also dominated the All-CAA honors, picking up a league-best five players on the three teams. Dorton and junior Sloane White were named All-CAA First Team, redshirt-junior Cara Howley made All-CAA Second Team and Kerstin Koehler and Melissa Morello were picked for the All-CAA Third Team.
Doing the RPI math
Despite a higher-rated conference and better overall record, CofC enters the 2013 NCAA Tournament with a lower RPI ranking this year of 65. Last season, the Cougars entered the tournament with an RPI of 48 and finished the season at 45. Charleston’s best finish came in 2005 with an RPI of 26.
Lucky Number 13
With College of Charleston’s CAA regular season and tournament titles, the Cougars extended their conference title streak to 13, winning either the regular season or tournament title of the SoCon and CAA dating back to 2001. That streak ranks second in the country behind Hawaii, who won the Big West conference.
During those 13 years, CofC has posted a record of 349-88 for a winning percentage of .798, each of which ranks eighth in the country over that span.
Counting on Dorton
College of Charleston’s stud outside hitter, Darcy Dorton won the CAA Player of the Year award in 2013 and looks to do a little more damage in her final matches as a collegian.
Dorton has a history of outstanding success. With her CAA championship, she has won conference titles in three different leagues (Big 10, SoCon, CAA), the only active D1 volleyball player to do so. She is a two-time AVCA All-America Honorable Mention recipient and two-time National Champion when she was at Penn State in 2009 and 2010.
Last season, Dorton led CofC to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a career-high 27 kills in Charleston’s second NCAA win and first victory over a ranked team in No. 23 Miami. Some of her top performances have come in big matches, including 20 kills in a win vs. Georgetown last year, 18 kills in last year’s SoCon title match, 18 kills in a win over Indiana this season, 26 kills in a win at Towson that clinched the CAA title and 19 kills against Northeastern to win the CAA Tourney.
She currently ranks third all-time in CofC history with 3.96 kills per set and is fourth all-time in career points/set (4.36).
White Surpasses 1,000 kills
Junior Sloane White joined Darcy Dorton in the 1,000-kill club in the CAA final, and she currently sits at 1,010 career kills. She and Dorton are the only pair of active hitters in the CAA with 1,000 career kills.
White has been CofC’s go-to attacker at the end of sets and matches. Last year, she terminated the game-winning kills in key victories over Samford and Furman in the regular season and against Furman and Miami in five-set thrillers in the SoCon Championship and NCAA Tournament first round.
This year, she has made the winning final point in 15 sets and seven final match points, including the game-winner against Indiana.
The College of Charleston has been successful this season with its use of the 6-2 offense, which employs two setters. Senior Taeler Davis and redshirt-junior Kallie McKown have split their setter duties and assist statistics, but together they have helped the Cougars lead the CAA with 13.14 assists/set. McKown won the CAA Setter of the Year award thanks to holding a slight edge over Davis in assists (607-585), however both players have been crucial cogs to the Charleston offensive juggernaut.
Numbers can be deceiving
College of Charleston’s offense received plenty of accolades this season for leading the league in kills, hitting percentage and assists. However, the back-line defense played quite well too despite some deceiving numbers.
The Cougars ranked sixth in the conference with 14.79 digs per set this season. Yet, CofC had more digs than their CAA opponents in 12 of 14 conference matches. In fact, the Cougars outdug opponents by a total margin of 866-673 in conference play and 1627-1339 overall.
Libero Andi Zbojniewicz led the Cougars with 3.56 digs per set, converting 126 of her 377 digs into kills for a conversation percentage of .334.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
This season, CofC played in seven different states against teams that hail from 15 different states, stretching from Seattle, Wash., and Long Beach, Calif., to Hempstead, N.Y. 15 represented states is the most on any CofC schedule in school history.
The Cougars have traveled in nearly every imaginable vehicle from jet planes to vans to charter buses and even the NYC Subway.
Magic away from home
The Cougars have been stout when playing away from TD Arena this season, posting an 8-2 record. Both losses came in California in the pacific time zone. CofC has won 20 straight conference road matches, dating back to 2011, and are 25-1 in conference away from home when counting the 2011 and 2012 conference tournaments at Samford and at Davidson.
Push for 10, Push for 20
Like most teams, College of Charleston makes an explicit effort to be the first team to 10 and 20 in any given set. In fact, the Cougars are 68-5 in sets where they are first to 10, and 69-7 when first to 20. The Cougars have done well in close sets, posting a 9-3 set record when the game goes to extra points.
Last time it happened...
College of Charleston will be facing an uphill battle, not only going against the 14th-ranked Blue Devils but also contending with the Cameron Crazies. Duke had over 5,500 people in its home win over North Carolina last week.
The last time that a team defeated one of the host schools in a first-round NCAA match was 2010 when Missouri upset Northern Iowa, 3-2.
Last season’s CofC NCAA win over Miami came in a neutral setting at UF, but Charleston’s 2005 win over North Carolina in the first round came on the Tar Heels’ home court.
Make it feel like home
CofC seniors Emily Neideffer and Kerstin Koehler will not only be playing to keep their collegiate careers still going, but will be doing it where it all began. Both players are natives of North Carolina, with Neideffer hailing from nearby Cary, N.C. and Koehler from Weaverville, N.C. in the western part of the state.
Koehler was a member of the 2009 team that played in a non-conference tournament at Duke that featured the Blue Devils, Penn State and Loyola.