ST. LOUIS – In its third consecutive appearance in the national quarterfinals, the Christopher Newport University women's volleyball team (37-4) dropped 18th-ranked SUNY Cortland 3-1 to advance to the program's first NCAA national semifinal.

The loss was just the second of the season for Cortland, wrapping up the season with a 42-2 overall record. The Captains improve to 37-4 overall and will face the winner of the Carthage/Springfield quarterfinal tomorrow at 4:30 ET Saturday.

CNU was led by junior hitter Bailey Jensen with 16 kills while hitting .344 and adding five blocks. Cory Harris added 12 kills and 11 digs with a double-double for the Captains. Senior setter Jessie Heavenrich had 48 assists in the win.

Cortland got on the board first, with a first-set victory, 25-20. It was back-and-forth for the first ten points on both sides before CNU managed to build the lead to five on a 7-1 run, getting the score to 16-11 on a Chelsea McClure kill. Cortland answered in a big way, though, running off a 13-2 run of their own to take a 24-18 lead for set point. After two points for CNU, Cortland got the winning point to win, 25-20.

The Captains hit just .053 in the first set as five different players had two kills. Katie Wick had four kills for the Dragons.

CNU pulled away early in the second set, building a five-point lead on a powerful cross-court kill by Christie Fellows followed by an ace by McClure, giving CNU an 11-6 lead. A solo block from Kaitlyn Cooper got the Red Dragons back on track as they scored three unanswered points to pull back within two, 11-9. CNU built the lead again as Jensen found the back line for a deep kill to give CNU a 15-11 lead headed into a media timeout.

Christopher Newport coach Lindsay Birch has reason to smile after her Captains advanced to the national semifinals on Friday. Still, Birch says even without a win, she's still right where she wants to be.
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After the break the Captains continued the big run, getting the lead all the way to nine at 23-14. The run was highlighted by a back-line kill from rookie Brooke Moore. McClure could set up game point with a kill off the hands of a Red Dragon defender. Fellows wrapped up the set with a hard kill to the middle of the floor to tie the match at 1-1 with a 25-16 victory.

The Captains kept the momentum rolling into the third set, dominating from start to finish. Jensen gave CNU an 11-5 lead with a hard kill and then a hitting error put CNU up by seven, 13-6. A savvy play by Heavenrich made it 14 and another attack error gave CNU a 15-6 lead headed into the timeout. The Captains got it all the way to 21-6 with a 10-0 run before Cortland won back-to-back points. On set point, it was Fellows with her second consecutive set point kill.

The Captains took a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-10 win in the third set. The Captains hit .500 from the floor with just two errors in the third set and 14 kills. Cortland hit for a negative percentage in the third, at -.129 with five kills and nine errors.

Cortland responded in the fourth set, holding CNU close until the media timeout when the Captains took a 15-14 lead. Out of the break, CNU got an ace from McClure and then rookie Jessie Kolden to pull ahead by four, 18-14. Jensen made her match-high 15th kill and junior Kara Elder had an ace to make it 20-15. Cortland pulled back within five at 23-18, but the Captains had match point after Jensen punctuated her stellar match with another big kill. With junior All-American DS Abby Hogge back to serve, McClure pushed a soft over into the short corner to win the match.

The Captains struggled in the first set, hitting just .053, but were impressive in the remaining three sets, hitting .238, .500 and .324. Defensively, CNU had nine blocks and 67 digsas Jensen led the way with five assisted blocks. Hogge finished with 18 digs for the Captains while Elder and Harris each finished in double figures with 12 and 11 respectively.