FAIRFAX, Va. - - The Colonial Athletic Association expanded its tournament seedings to six teams in 2011 and coming into this weekend, all six spots were filled. The only question was where would each team land in the standings.
Saturday's action answered the major question as the University of Delaware volleyball team swept George Mason, 3-0, earning the Blue Hens (18-13, 11-3 CAA) their third consecutive CAA regular season championship and the right to host the CAA Tournament starting on November 18.
The Blue Hens were tied with Northeastern atop the leaderboard coming into today’s matches, but hold the head-to-head tie-breaker against the Huskies by sweeping them, 2-0, this season.
The Huskies conclude their regular season on Sunday as they travel to UNCW. The rest of the pairings will be settled following the completion of the regular season tomorrow.
Set scores for tonight’s match vs. George Mason were 27-25, 25-18 and 25-13.
The victory was the fourth in a row for Delaware and continued its late-season surge as the Blue Hens have defeated 10 of their last 11 opponents.
Kim Stewart and Katie Hank (above right) paced the Blue Hen offense with 10 kills each as Stewart finished with a team high .391 attack percentage. Stewart (below right) and Hank each took 23 swings on the night, and only committed one and two errors, respectively. As a team, Delaware hit at a .302 rate, compared to a .233 mark by George Mason's (7-19, 2-12 CAA).
Senior setter Renee Tomko improved her assists average in CAA matches to 11.00 helps per set with 37 against the Patriots. She also posted 37 assists in a three-set victory over Penn earlier in the season to tie her season’s best. Tomko also posted three block assists and five digs to help the defense.
Libero Cara Rosehill was the lone Blue Hen with double-digit digs, as she kept a match-high 14 attacks off the floor to lead the back line. At the net, middles Karina Evans and Chelsea Lawrence each denied four attempts, finishing with four block assists.
The momentum of the match swung in favor of the Blue Hens in the first set, deflated the spirits of the Patriots for the entire match.
Trailing 21-15 the Blue Hens rallying back to steal the set. Following a timeout by head coach Bonnie Kenny, three consecutive kill by Lawrence, Tomko and Evans cut the lead in half and forced George Mason into its first timeout.
After the break, Hank and Evans assisted on a block to make it four straight points by the visitors. On Rosehill’s fourth consecutive serve, the Blue Hens cut it to 21-20 on a ball handling error on Laura Spencer.
The Patriots got a point back, but Hank took over the game from the outside. She connected on three straight attempts, give the Hens a 23-22 lead, their first since 11-10 of the frame.
The teams traded the next five points, keeping the set knotted at 25-25. Stewart gave Delaware set point on a kill from Tomko, and Alker finished off the comeback with her first service ace of the contest, 27-25.
From there, the match was all Delaware’s as it dominated by scores of 25-18 and 25-13 to close out the evening, allowing the Hens to come home as the regular season champions.
George Mason’s Lana Zonjic led the Patriots with team-highs of 10 kills and 12 digs, posting the only double figure kill performance for the home squad. Lauren Goodell passed out 25 helpers while Noelle Fanella collected 11 digs on the night.
The CAA Tournament will begin on Thursday, November 17 with the annual banquet and announcement of the All-CAA performers, following by quarterfinal action on Friday starting at 4 p.m. at Barbara Viera Court in the Carpenter Sports Building in Newark.
With the number one seed and the right to host, the Blue Hens will receive a first round bye and will play the winner of the No. vs. No. 5 match on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Log on to BlueHens.com for all your CAA Tournament information.
Delaware def. George Mason, 3-0 (27-25, 25-18, 25-13)
Delaware (kills-assists-digs): Hank (10-0-3); Tomko (2-37-5); Stewart (10-0-6); Alker (8-1-6); Lawrence (7-0-0); Evans (8-0-1); Rosehill (0-3-14); Reigel (0-0-0); Walton (0-0-3).
George Mason: Goodell (1-25-3); Zonjic (10-0-12); Price (5-8-4); Fanella (8-1-11); Bohman (4-0-1); Spencer (6-0-1); McCarter (0-1-6); Boryc (0-0-2); Yin (1-0-0); Matsushima (0-0-1); Spear (0-0-1).
Total Team Blocks: Delaware 8, George Mason 8