Delaware Volleyball Falls to Hofstra 3-2 in Colonial Athletic Association Championship Game Thriller
Photo Courtesy of Jimmy Smith
November 18, 2012
• CAA Tournament Central
TOWSON, Md. – The University of Delaware’s dream of a third straight Colonial Athletic Association volleyball title came up agonizingly short Sunday afternoon as Hofstra fought back from a 2-1 deficit to win the final two sets and down the Blue Hens 3-2 in the CAA Tournament championship game at the Towson University Center.
The No. 2 seed Blue Hens, the two-time defending league champions, took a 2-1 lead after a dominating 25-12 victory in the third set, but the No. 4 seed Pride fought back to win their first CAA title since 2006 by winning the fourth set 25-23 and taking the deciding fifth set by a 15-12 score.
It marked the fifth straight year that the CAA championship match has gone the full five sets. The set scores were 18-25, 25-16, 12-25, 25-23, 15-12.
Delaware, which defeated No. 6 James Madison 3-1 in Saturday’s semifinal, had a four-match win streak snapped to end the season with a mark of 16-14 that included eight wins in the last 10 matches. The Hens, who won CAA titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011, were trying to become the first team since George Mason in 1992-96 to win three straight league titles.
Hofstra, which defeated No. 5 William & Mary 3-0 in the quarterfinals Friday and top seed and undefeated regular season champion Towson 3-2 in the semifinals Saturday, improved to 21-13 with its seventh straight victory. The Pride earns the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Tournament field will be announced this coming Sunday.
“It’s tough to get this far and go down,” said Delaware head coach Bonnie Kenny, whose team had won five straight CAA Tournament matches. “They (Hofstra) are experiencing what we have felt the last two years. It isn’t fun being on this side. We just didn’t play at a high enough level today. I loved our effort but we just didn’t execute when we needed to at critical times. I was a little disappointed in our defense today because that has been our staple all year. But Hofstra is a good team and they deserve a lot of credit. They just kept coming at us and took advantage when they needed to.”
Senior Chelsea Lawrence led three Blue Hen in double figures kills with 15 to go with six blocks while fellow senior Alissa Alker added 12 kills, 13 digs, and seven blocks, junior Katie Hank contributed 13 kills, freshman and 2012 CAA Defensive Player of the Year Ariel Shonk had 18 digs, and Mackenzie Olsen contributed 42 assists and 11 digs.
Lawrence and Alker were named to the All-Tournament team with Alker being recognized for the third straight year. They were joined on the All-Tournament team by James Madison’s Danielle Erb, Towson’s Katy Buck, and Hofstra’s Catalina Charry, Kylee Maneja, and Kelsie Wills of Hofstra. Wills, who recorded a team-high 18 kills to go with 11 digs against Delaware, was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Emily Burke added 11 kills for the Pride while Charry and Sara Campolina each had 10 with Charry adding 29 assists and 14 digs.
“This is a tough loss,” said Lawrence, who like Alker was named to the All-CAA team for the second straight year earlier in the week. “It’s disappointing because we didn’t do everything we could have done to win. But I’m proud of what we did this year. We didn’t start out well (1-7 start) but we fought back and really stuck together. It has been an amazing experience to be part of Delaware volleyball.”
Delaware led almost the entire way in the first set as Lawrence knocked down six kills without an error on the way to 25-18 win. But the Pride bounced right back to take the second game by a 25-16 score as Wells recorded five kills and Delaware hit just .057 with six attack errors.
After the break, Delaware came out strong in the third game to take an easy 25-12 victory. The Hens built on an 11-6 lead with five straight points to go up 16-6 and Hofstra never got closer than 10 the rest of the way. The Pride hit negative .068 for the set as Delaware performed well at the net.
But the rest of the match belonged to Hofstra, which avenged a 3-2 loss to Delaware back on Oct. 20 at the Bob Carpenter Center. The Pride tied the match up at 2-2 with a 25-23 win in the fourth set. Delaware rallied back from a 12-8 deficit midway through the set and eventually took a 20-17 lead. Hofstra fought back to tie the match at 22-22 and secured the victory on a service ace by Maneja.
That set the stage for a hard-fought fifth set that the Pride eventually captured. Lawrence scored three straight points for the Hens on two kills and a service ace to give Delaware a 7-5 lead. Hofstra answered with three straight points to take an 8-7 lead, and after a kill by Delaware’s Alker, scored three straight again to go up 10-8.
Delaware fought back on a kill by Alker and a block assist from Lawrence and Katie Hillman to tie the set at 10-10, but that would be the last share of the lead the Hens would enjoy. Wills added two straight kills for the Pride for a 12-10 lead before the Hens cut the margin to one on a service error.
But Wills and Campolina came back with consecutive kills and Campolina ended the match with a kill at the net, setting off a wild celebration for Hofstra that the Blue Hens couldn’t bear to watch.
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