ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Christopher Newport is headed to the NCAA National Championship. The sixth-ranked Captains swept ninth-ranked Carthage 3-0 to earn the team’s first trip to the title game. The Captains improved to 38-4, dropping Carthage to 34-7 after a 25-14, 25-22, 25-11 win. CNU had a stellar match defensively, holding one of the nation’s top-10 teams to a negative hitting percentage for the match at -.023.
CNU had 12 blocks in the match, led by junior Bailey Jensen with two solo and four assisted. Junior Christie Fellows added five assists and seniors Jessie Heavenrich and Chelsea McClure each had three apiece. Defensive specialist Abby Hogge had 21 of the Captains 63 digs in the match.
“We played unbelievable defense tonight against a great offensive team,” head coach Lindsay Birch said. “Carthage is as legit a team as we played all season and I’m proud of the way we neutralized their attack. I’m incredibly proud of all 16 players and our coaching staff for tonight’s performance — but we have one game left before we celebrate.”
Christopher Newport will now advance to play in Sunday’s national championship game. The Captains are looking to earn the school’s first national championship outside of Track & Field.
CNU took an early 9-5 lead in the first set led by junior Cory Harris, forcing a Lady Reds timeout. Harris had a pair of kills in the early run. Carthage answered to pull back into a tie at 14 points apiece; an attack error put CNU up 15-14.
Folowaing a timeout, the Captains substituted freshman Brooke Moore back to serve, and she would be on the back line for the rest of the set. CNU ran off 11 consecutive points to win the first set 25-14 as the Captains dominated the second half of the first set. A pair of assisted blocks by Jensen and Heavenrich punctuated the run and set point came as Jensen slammed a hard shot down the left side for the win 25-14.
CNU hit .233 in the first, holding the Lady Reds to a negative-.047 hitting.
Jensen continued her solid defense early in the second set as CNU took an 8-2 lead on a pair of blocks, followed by a kill from the junior middle. CNU led by as many as seven at 13-6, but Carthage powered all the way back with eight of the next nine points to tie the set at 14 for the second consecutive set. Another kill from Harris gave CNU the lead at the media timeout, 15-14.
The numbers suggest that Christopher Newport’s Jesse Heavenrich is a great player. Her actions on the court and he coach’s words suggest she’s a great leader one win from a national title.
• Complete story, click here
Carthage took its first lead of the set at 18-17 on an attack error by CNU but junior Christie Fellows answered for the Captains with a long kill from the right side. Another block by Jensen and Heavenrich put CNU back on top 19-18.
With the score tied at 20-20, the two teams battled in an extremely long rally with several amazing defensive plays to keep the play going and Carthage won the point on a kill by Cindy Cavanagh. The contentious battle continued as the teams traded points until a block from Fellows and McClure put CNU up 23-22. An ace from Heavenrich set up game point and fittingly, another block from Jensen gave CNU the second set win 25-22.
Carthage came into the third set with the memory on the same floor from a week ago, when they upset host Washington-St. Lous by coming back from a two-set deficit to win 3-2. The Captains denied any déjà vu though, dominating the third set from wire-to-wire. The Captains put away the Lady Reds this time, winning the third set 25-11.
Senior Chelsea McClure finished out the match for the second consecutive day with a kill to send CNU to the national championship. Her classmate Jessie Heavenrich led the way offensively, setting up 27 kills on the day, while adding five digs and one kill. Harris had a match-high 10 kills and hit .323 for CNU, while Hogge had an impressive day with 21 digs.
Carthage was led by Michelle Madeja with 10 kills. Drewann Pancratz had 17 assists and Izzy Shaindlin had 18 digs for the Lady Reds.