Delaware Advances To CAA Tournament Final With Five-Set Thriller Over Charleston
• Boxscore (pdf)
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- The University of Delaware volleyball rallied to win the final two sets as the Blue Hens posted a thrilling five-set (25-22, 21-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-13) victory over the College of Charleston in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Semifinals Saturday at UNCW's Hanover Hall.
The sixth-seeded Blue Hens, who improved to 16-15, advance to Sunday's championship match against top-seeded James Madison at 12 noon. That match will be televised live by the American Sports Network and will be shown locally on The Comcast Network.
After winning the opening set, the Blue Hens dropped the next two and trailed 22-20 in the fourth. Delaware won the next two points and then fell behind 23-22, but a kill by Alexa Swann, a block by Swann and Maria Bellinger, and a Charleston attack error forced the fifth set.
The Blue Hens then quickly won the first three points of the deciding game and never trailed. Delaware led by as many as four points on six occasions, the final time at 14-10. Charleston rallied to take the next three points and pull within one, but Autumn Jenkins and Swann combined on a final block to end the match and set off the UD celebration.
“This team continues to play good volleyball,” Blue Hen interim head coach Brian Toron said. “That was a tremendous match. Charleston played some outstanding volleyball. Our team fought hard for every point, and I’m so proud of them. We’ve put ourselves in a position to play for a championship, which is all we can ask for.”
Swann led Delaware with 18 kills and hit .556 for the match, while Jenkins posted her 18th double-double of the season with 15 kills and 11 digs to with a career-high six blocks.
Bellinger contributed 13 kills and 14 digs for the Blue Hens, Erin Layne notched a double-double of her own with 56 assists and 12 digs, and Taylor Hollingsworth made a team-leading 15 digs.
Devon Rachel slammed 15 kills while Kennedy Madison and Lauren Freed added 14 each for Charleston, which ended its season with a 17-12 record. Allison Beckman dished out 49 assists for the Cougars, while McKala Rhodes contributed a match-high 31 digs.
The opening set was tied at 19-19, but Delaware closed the game by winning six of the final nine points to take the early lead. The second frame was tied at 15-15 midway through, but the Cougars captured the next four points and led the rest of the way to even the match at a set apiece.
The Blue Hens led 17-14 in the third game, but Charleston responded with a 7-1 run and led from there to go in front two sets to one. But Delaware answered by taking the final two sets to capture the match.
“The amount of passion and heart this team has right now is unbelievable,” Swann stated. “Every single person on this team was a part of our win tonight. I’m so incredibly proud of us. It’s really special to be a part of what’s happening right now.”
• Delaware will be making its seventh appearance in the CAA Final, and its first since 2012. The Blue Hens are 4-2 in CAA Championship matches
• UD defeated College Charleston for the first time in nine tries since the Cougars joined the CAA
• Hollingsworth moved into seventh place in UD history with 1,559 career digs
• Delaware improved to 6-3 in five-set matches this year
• Bellinger and Layne each notched their sixth double-doubles of the year
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