The Cougars will advance to face Furman in the 2012 SoCon Championship match. CofC has now reached the conference title match in 11 straight season, the second-longest such active streak in the nation. The match will be held on Monday night at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.
Sunday night’s match was an emotional battle between two league heavyweights. The Cougars won the first two sets handily but Samford jumped out to a lead in the third set and eventually won despite a ferocious CofC comeback to tie the set at 22. CofC hit .486 in the fourth set to win the match.
For the second match in a row, four different Cougars reached double figures in kills, led by Darcy Dorton‘s 19 kills. Dorton also picked up 12 digs to earn a double-double.
Sloane White made 17 kills against just three errors for a .424 attacking percentage. Emily Neideffer and Melissa Morello each tallied 14 kills, and Morello also notched 11 digs to get her second straight double-double.
“The team did a great job executing the game plan,” head coach Jason Kepner said. “This time of the year the teams that win are the ones that are toughest to prepare for. Having great production from so many people makes us dangerous. We can create points from so many places on the court.”
Samford’s Michaela Reesor made a match-high 21 kills and 11 digs. Katie Murphy tallied 10 kills and Casey Garvey notched a double-double with 51 assists and 13 digs.
The first set saw College of Charleston jump out to an early 9-4 lead, before Samford used a Hutchinson block to cut the Cougar lead to 9-7. The teams then traded points before College of Charleston went on a 7-3 run to take the set, 25-17. The Cougars out-hit the Bulldogs, .395-.209, and recorded 21 kills in the set, six each by White and Dorton.
Samford kept the second set close as the teams traded points but, with the score tied at 9, CofC used a kill from Morello and some great defensive work to take a 12-9 lead. The Cougars never allowed the Bulldogs to get closer than three, taking the set, 25-19.
Samford took an early 7-2 lead in set three, thanks to three strong blocks by Neisler. College of Charleston then cut the lead to 7-4, before Bulldogs then went on a 9-3 run to pull out to a 16-7 lead. CofC then pulled to within four at 17-13 using two aces by Shelton and a kill by Neideffer. The Cougars then used solid hitting to tie the match at 22, then again at 23, before the Bulldogs used a kill and a CofC error to take the set, 25-23.
College of Charleston jumped out to a 6-4 lead in set one and, thanks to some key blocking from Kerstin Koehler, pulled out to a 16-12 lead. The Cougars never allowed the Bulldogs to regain the lead and eventually took the set, 25-22, and the match, 3-1. CofC hit .486 in the final set and a kill from Dorton allowed the Cougars to celebrate semifinal victory.