GAINESVILLE, Fla. – College of Charleston rallied back from deficits and eventually pulled away in the fifth set to defeat Miami (Fla.) 3-2 (25-22, 21-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-10) in the first round of the national tournament.
The Cougars rallied from a five point deficit in the first set and four points in the fourth set to come back and win both frames. CofC also trailed 2-0 in the fifth set before coming back to win 15-10.
“I knew that this team had the toughness and resolve to battle after we advanced through the difficult SoCon Tournament,” head coach Jason Kepner said. “Everyone believed in each other and the team continued to pick each other up. Miami is a great opponent and we rose to the challenge. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
Junior Darcy Dorton led Charleston with a career-high 27 kills on 71 attack attempts. She also had 17 digs for her 17th double-double of the season. Dorton’s 27 kills put her at 525 kills on the season, which is the school record in the rally scoring era.
Sophomore Sloane White finished with 17 kills and a .441 hitting percentage committing only two errors.
The Hurricanes were led by Taylor Hollins (17 kills, 12 digs) and Savanah Leaf (13 kills, 18 digs). Libero Ryan Shaffer led the team with 21 digs.
Miami jumped out to a 5-0 lead to begin the match, but CofC responded with a 4-0 run on a Davis serve to tie the set at seven. Two UM attack errors and a block from Morello and Koehler gave CofC a 10-8 lead. Miami used a 4-0 run to go up 17-13. However, the Cougars rallied back yet again and took a 22-21 lead on a slide from White. Leaf tied the set at 22, but that was the closest that Miami got as White tallied another big kill and Emani Sims hit the ball wide to give CofC the set victory 25-22.
The Hurricanes jumped out to another lead in the second set at 3-0, but the Cougars were quicker to recover this time and tied the score at four after White and Dorton kills. Both teams traded big runs with CofC rallying from down 8-4 to take a 10-9 lead after a block and kill from Neideffer. Kills from Dorton put the Cougars up 15-13, but Miami scored five of the next six points to lead 18-16. The teams battled to a 20 tie, but Miami scored the next two points to take the lead for good, eventually winning the set 25-21.
CofC made several runs in the third set, but Miami never trailed after building a 7-4 lead early in the set. The Cougars rallied to an 19-17 deficit and nearly pulled to within one but a Shaffer pancake dig kept a rally alive and eventually Miami went up 20-17. College of Charleston could not rally a final time and the Hurricanes won the set 25-19.
College of Charleston fell behind 9-5 in the fourth set, but rallied to tie the set at 12 after kills from Morello and White. Both teams traded points throughout the middle of the set until kills from White and Koehler sandwiched a Miami error to put CofC up 21-19. Two more CofC kills after a Miami timeout made the score 23-19 and two kills from White ended the fourth set in CofC’s favor at 25-22.
Although Miami went up 2-0 in the fifth set, Charleston quickly responded to tie the set at four. A Miami error and a Dorton kill gave the Cougars a slight 8-7 edge at the turn. Two kills from Dorton and a block from Dorton and Neideffer gave CofC an 11-8 lead. A kill from Koehler was followed by a service ace from Davis. A block from White and Koehler gave CofC match point.