Blue Hensí Run Comes to an End with Three-Set Loss to James Madison in CAA Tournament Final
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- The University of Delaware volleyball team’s dramatic Colonial Athletic Association Tournament run came to an end Sunday afternoon as the Blue Hens fell to top-seeded James Madison, 3-0 (25-18, 26-24, 25-20), in the championship match at UNCW’s Hanover Hall.
The sixth-seeded Blue Hens, who end their season at 16-16, advanced to the tournament final with wins over Northeastern and Charleston after an impressive run down the stretch to earn a postseason berth.
James Madison, which improved to 21-10, won its 10th consecutive match to advance to the NCAA Tournament with its first conference title since 2000.
UD senior outside hitter Autumn Jenkins posted her 19th double-double of the season with 10 kills and 11 digs for the Blue Hens, while Maria Bellinger added 10 kills on the day. Alexa Swann contributed nine kills, Erin Layne handed out 36 assists, and Taylor Hollingsworth (left) tied Jenkins for the team lead with 11 digs.
Bryn Recker paced the Dukes with 13 kills and hit .458 on the afternoon, while CAA Player of the Year Janey Goodman added 10 kills and a .474 attack percentage. Tilbe Yaglioglu and Sarah Martin combined for 33 assists, while Taylor Austin made a match-high 15 digs.
“The glass slipper has fallen,” said UD interim head coach Brian Toron, who guided the Blue Hens to 10 wins in 12 matches prior to today’s defeat. “It has been an incredible two months. This team worked so hard, and it is a testament to them being able to play in a championship. I want to congratulate JMU on earning a championship and wish them good luck representing our conference in the NCAA Tournament. Personally I would like to thank the entire Blue Hen athletic family. This staff and team felt your support and it was greatly appreciated.”
“I’m so proud of this season,” Swann said. “Everyone poured their hearts into this year, so this loss is truly heartbreaking. This was an incredible season, and we overcame so much adversity. I wouldn’t have wanted to go on this ride with anyone else. I’ll be able to look back on this season and remember that by sticking together, having a pure love for the game, and having an amazing support system, a team can do unimaginable things.”
JMU won the first four points of the match, but Delaware quickly regrouped to take an 8-7 lead on a service ace by Layne. However the Dukes took the next five points and led the rest of the way, taking the set on a Goodman kill.
The Blue Hens jumped out to a 6-2 advantage in the second game, and still led 17-14 before JMU countered with five consecutive points. Delaware rallied and had a pair of set points at 24-22, but the Dukes won the next four points to take a two-set lead.
Delaware captured the first three points of the third frame, but after the teams were tied 9-9, JMU won the next three points and led from there. The Blue Hens captured two straight points to pull within 24-20, but Goodman recorded a kill to put the match away.
“This season would not have been possible without every single person that stood in our locker room after this last game,” Hollingsworth said. “We as a group fought through the toughest of times to achieve so much success. I could not be more proud to be a part of something like this. To walk away from this game is to walk away with our heads held high for a season full of passion and hard work that put us in a championship match. Thanks to our coaches for putting their lives into our season, and thanks to each girl on this team who became my family.”
• Delaware, making its seventh appearance in the CAA Championship Match, fell to 4-3 in conference tournament finals
• JMU and Delaware were meeting in the CAA final for the first time. UD still holds a 3-2 postseason edge over the Dukes
• Delaware was seeking to become the first No. 6 seed in CAA volleyball history to win the league tournament
• JMU defeated UD for the second time in three meetings this year, although the Blue Hens still hold a 27-25 all-time advantage
• Jenkins and Swann represented Delaware on the CAA All-Tournament Team
• Hollingsworth finished her career seventh in UD history with 1,570 career digs
• Swann also is seventh in Blue Hen history with 391 blocks
• Jenkins reached double figure kills for the 12th time in the last 13 matches
• Bellinger posted double digits kills for the 10th time in 13 contests
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Kevin Tritt at: email@example.com (email) / 302-831-8715 (office) / 302-383-5005 (cell)