College of Charleston’s volleyball team met tough competition this weekend, dropping a crucial match to Georgia Southern before bouncing back to take down Davidson.
After the match Saturday, head coach Jason Kepner spoke about the results of the weekend.
“You always want to respond to an emotional loss by coming right back out and getting a win,” he said. “We made some mistakes that gave them opportunities, but we made some plays down the stretch and that was the difference.”
Friday’s match against the Eagles of GSU was a battle for the top spot in the Southern Conference South division, with both teams entering the match with a 9-1 in-conference record.
From the first point, a long rally that ended in a point for the Eagles, it was clear that the match would be hard-fought on both sides of the net.
Sloane White’s early kills gave Charleston a slight advantage and they kept it going from there.
The Cougars found all the open gaps in the Eagle’s defense and took a 15-10 lead.
Despite Georgia Southern’s attempt to battle back, big blocks from the Cougar front line halted their run and Charleston took the first set, 25-16.
As the second set unfolded, it was as if the Eagles had been replaced by a new squad, jumping out to an 8-3 lead over the Cougars.
Darcy Dorton took charge and got the squad back on their game, starting a five-point run to pull within one, 13-12.
Georgia Southern used a strategic timeout to recapture the lead and gained the momentum necessary to carry them through the set, winning, 25-17.
After the break, the Cougars still looked thrown by their second set performance. The two squads traded points early in the third, but after the Eagles found their footing a took a lead, Charleston never recovered.
The Eagle’s front line proved too tough for the Cougars to conquer as they took the third set, 25-15.
With the match in jeopardy, Charleston rallied in the fourth set, keeping close to the Eagles, and with help from Melissa Morello came back to within one, 11-10.
Three times the Cougars came within one point of Georgia Southern, but never found a way to break the barrier and tie. A small run for the Eagles, mid-set, put Charleston too far back and they dropped the fourth set, 25-20, and the match, 3-1.
Dorton lead the offense with 14 kills while Morello and White each added eight.
Saturday evening’s matchup against the Davidson Wildcats was a must-win for the Cougars after their harrowing loss the previous night.
The Wildcats came ready to play, taking the first point and showing off a tenacious energy to take 10-5 lead.
Charleston looked stunned by Davidson’s offense but found their rhythm to tie at 11 all.
In the same style as the night before, the Cougars hung with their opponent but could not capture the lead, allowing Davidson to hit 20 with a three-point advantage.
The gap proved too large to close as the Wildcats took the first set, 25-22.
As the second set kicked off, the Cougars luck shifted as they took a 10-7 lead. Charleston tried to pull away but the Wildcats kept on their heels, never allowing the Cougars to get comfortable.
Charleston inched towards victory, hitting 20 with a five-point lead and a kill from White ended the second, 25-16.
After the break, equal play continued between the squads as they tied at five. Ties and lead changes dictated the middle of the set but Davidson grabbed the lead, 22-21.
The Cougars took a timeout to regroup and it proved advantageous as they tied the match at 22 all. Big blocks from Emily Neideffer, White, and Morello ended the third, 25-22.
Neideffer exploded in the fourth set, coming up with big points to get the Cougars off to a strong start, up 8-6.
Back-to-back points for Morello and Neideffer pushed the lead to 13-8 as Charleston tried to put the Wildcats away.
The mid-set run gave the Cougars the most confidence they had displayed all weekend and fueled them to a 20-12 lead.
Despite a small lull at the end of the set, allowing Davidson a chance to catch up, Charleston took the fourth, 25-18, and the match, 3-1.
The Cougars put up big numbers across the board with Dorton leading the offense, putting up 19 kills. Morello boasted a season-best 16 kills as well as 11 digs. Neideffer added 11 kills and two service aces on the evening.
Libero Emily Shelton kept pushing toward 2,000 digs, with 26 on the evening while setter Taeler Davis added 10 digs herself on top of 52 assists, her sixth double-double of the season.
Charleston opens their final road weekend of the regular season Friday evening at Wofford.