Nov 26, 2013, 10:43 AM EDT
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., (Nov. 24, 2013) – Top seed and conference newcomer College of Charleston outlasted second-seeded Northeastern (3-1) in the title match of the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Volleyball Championship on Saturday at the North Charleston Convention Center in North Charleston, S.C. The Cougars earn the league’s automatic bid and will represent the CAA in the NCAA Tournament.
College of Charleston took the match by set scores of 27-25, 27-25, 19-25, 25-23 and improved to 25-5 on the year. Northeastern, which was the only team in the CAA to defeat the Cougars in league regular season play, beat third-seeded UNCW (3-0) in the semifinals before falling just short in its bid for the school’s first ever CAA crown. The Huskies finished the season at 19-11.
“We were part of an epic volleyball match today,” coach Jason Kepner said. “I’m so proud of the effort and determination from both teams. It was a great way for a championship to be determined, and our team found a way to come out on top. This has been an incredible season for our program in this new conference, and we hope to represent it well in the NCAA Tournament.”
Tournament Most Outstanding Player Darcy Dorton, who also won CAA Player of the Year honors, led the CofC charge with a team-high 19 kills and also had 13 digs. Junior Sloane White and sophomore Melissa Morello each notched double-doubles, with White registering 15 kills and 10 digs and Morello providing 13 kills and 14 digs. The Cougars amazingly played in their 13th straight conference title match (dating back to their time in the SoCon).
The victory on Sunday allowed the Cougars to earn their eighth conference championship in the last 13 years. In the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Tournament, CofC defeated Miami (Fla.), 3-2, for the program’s second ever NCAA victory.
NU’s Kelly Bacon recorded her second straight double-double of the weekend, leading all players with 20 kills while chipping in 16 digs in the final match of her illustrious career. CAA Rookie of the Year Jamie Bredahl tallied 13 kills, 23 assists and six digs, while senior Nichole Kurz finished with 12 kills in defeat.
The Huskies swept UNCW, 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 27-25), in the semifinals on Saturday and entered Sunday’s tilt with a 0-2 record all-time in CAA finals. NU also had never won more than two matches in the same tournament.
The hosts captured a tight first set, 27-25, as Bacon and Bredahl surprisingly committed back-to-back attack errors after the Huskies tied it at 25 all. Morello had five kills, while White and Dorton each notched three in the opening frame for CofC.
The second set proved to be a true test of character for both teams as the action continually jumped back and forth with multiple lead changes. With the score knotted at 21-21, CofC expanded the gap to 24-21 via two Dorton kills and one attack error by NU.
Not to be outdone, the Huskies roared back with three kills by three different players. Bredahl, Bacon and Kurz helped quiet the crowd on the offensive to keep the set alive.
Both teams then traded points to again tie the game at 25-25, before some late-set dramatics gave CofC the critical 2-0 match lead. White, who was named to the all-tournament team, had a monster kills to make it 26-25, then on set point, a strange play occurred.
NU’s Janelle Tucker did her best to dig out a CofC serve, while Bacon chased the ball just off the side of the court. She played the ball back in, though the umpire blew the whistle and called the play dead ruling Bacon had left the area of play.
After the break, the Huskies came out firing on all cylinders, determined to not go down without a fight. They held onto a lead for most of the set, until Dorton looked to bring the hosts back with a kill that knotted the action at 18-18. Bacon, however, provided a quick spark with two straight kills, allowing the Huskies to grab momentum and close the set on a 7-1 run for the 25-19 victory.
While the fourth and final set certainly played out in a competitive fashion, the Cougars helped tire out the Huskies by jumping out to a 10-6 start. Northeastern continued to battle, tying the set then getting within 16-15 thanks to a block and attack error.
With the set later tied at 21-21 following a Bredahl kill, White and Dorton each recorded kills to push the advantage to 23-21 and provide some breathing room. Northeastern received another spike from Bredahl to make it one-point contest, but White and Dorton again came through with kills of their own – in between an attack error – to earn the victory and ultimately, capture the 2013 CAA title.
NU’s Natalia Skiba, who won 2013 CAA Defensive Specialist of the Year honors, led all players with 19 digs in the setback. Skiba, along with Bacon, White, Morello and Dorton were all named to the all-tournament team as well.
Darcy Dorton, OH, College of Charleston (MOP)*
Melissa Morello, OH, College of Charleston
Sloane White, RS, College of Charleston
Nuria Lopes da Silva, MB, Hofstra
Kelly Bacon, OH, Northeastern
Natalia Skiba, L, Northeastern
Christi Laite, RS, UNCW
*Tournament Most Outstanding Player
2013 CAA Volleyball Championship – North Charleston, S.C.
Friday, Nov. 22 – Quarterfinals
#5 Hofstra def. #4 James Madison (3-0)
#3 UNCW def. #6 William & Mary (3-1)
Saturday, Nov. 23 – Semifinals
#1 College of Charleston def. #5 Hofstra (3-0)
#2 Northeastern def. #3 UNCW (3-0)
Sunday, Nov. 24 – CAA Championship
#1 College of Charleston def. #2 Northeastern (3-1)
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