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Courtesy: CAA
The Cougars and Cara Howley advanced to their 13 straight conference title match.

Top-Seeded CofC downs Hofstra, Advances To Volleyball Finals

Courtesy: CAA
          Release: 11/23/2013
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., (Nov. 23, 2013) - Top-seeded College of Charleston earned a 3-0 sweep of fifth-seeded Hofstra in Saturday’s first semifinal match of the 2013 Colonial Athletic Association Volleyball Championship held at the North Charleston Convention Center in North Charleston, S.C.

Hofstra entered the semifinals fresh off a convincing, 3-0 win over James Madison in the quarterfinals -- ironically to avenge multiple 3-0 defeats to the Dukes during the regular season. College of Charleston earned a bye into the semis thanks to capturing the league’s regular season title with a near-perfect 13-1 record.

The hosts, playing in their inaugural season and first CAA Championship, improved to 24-5 on the season with the victory, it’s 14th in the team’s last 15 matches. CAA Player of the Year Darcy Dorton hit .333 and collected 13 kills, while sophomore Melissa Morello turned out a very efficient 10-kill, eight-dig effort.

CofC moves on to the title game to face either second-seeded Northeastern or third-seeded UNCW. Hofstra, the defending tournament champions, fell to 17-15 on the year. Pride redshirt junior Nuria Lopes da Silva registered a match-high 15 kills in defeat, while first-team All-CAA member Kelsie Wills finished with eight kills.

CofC headed into the championship with plenty of momentum, having won 13 straight conference regular season or tournament championships (dating back to the Cougars’ time in the SoCon), a streak which currently ranks second in the nation.

“I was very happy with how we came out of the gate,” CofC coach Jason Kepner said. “We had not played a match yet in the tournament and Hofstra had a little more experience on the court. But we executed our game plan and had a balanced attack with great play from pin to pin. I am excited for the title match tomorrow and hope that our fans can give us a great environment.”

The hosts opened up the first set in impressive fashion, starting the action on a 7-3 run. Hofstra battled back to get within 15-12 following a CofC ball handling error, but the Cougars utilized a 6-1 run to win the set that was capped off by consecutive Melissa Morello kills to make it 21-13.

CofC finished the first set hitting .378, while Sloane White, Emily Neideffer and Morello each registered four kills apiece. Morello hit .360 and committed just one error on 25 attempts as well.

It was another fast start in the second set, as Charleston scored the first eight points off some superb defense and serves from Cara Howley. The Cougars’ lead grew to 20-9, but once again, Hofstra fought back. The Pride threatened as close as 23-18 thanks to back-to-back Lopes da Silva kills, but CofC closed out the set with an attack error and kill from Kerstin Koehler.

Hofstra was competitive throughout the third and final set, but CofC turned a 8-6 advantage into a 18-10 lead for some breathing room midway through, as Dorton slammed home a kill. From there, the Cougars were able to hold off a late comeback attempt to hang on for the win.

Overall, CofC hit .337 as a team compared to Hofstra’s .150 effort.

Saturday, Nov. 23 - Semifinals

#1 College of Charleston def. #5 Hofstra (3-0)

#3 UNCW vs. #2 Northeastern – 4:00 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 24 – CAA Title Game

#1 College of Charleston versus Game 4 winner – 1:00 p.m.