Demonstrating why they are the odds on favorites to win the Colonial again, the volleyball team swept the College of Charleston Classic Tournament over the weekend, beating Wake Forest on Friday then downing Stetson and California State Fullerton on Saturday.
The Cougars toughest test came on Friday against a talented ACC participant in Wake Forest, but Charleston outlasted the Demon Deacons in a five set thriller.
Senior Cara Howley turned in one of the best performances of her career, recording a career-high 26 kills and pulling the Cougars out of several deficits en route to the victory.
Down 19-13 in the first game, Howley scored four out of the Cougars next six points to help even the score at 19. The two teams traded points before Charleston capitalized on two errors by Wake Forest to win the game 31-29.
Wake Forest was able to regroup and win both the second and third games (29-27, 25-23), putting the Cougars in a must win situation in game four.
Charleston responded with a no-doubt win in game four, 25-21, thanks to big points from Howley and Melissa Morello.
In the deciding fifth game, Charleston fell behind 10-8 before Morello and Krissy Mummey responded with two straight points to tie the score at 10. The score was tied at 13 before the Demon Deacons committed an attack error and then Morello recorded a kill to win the fifth set, 15-13, and seal the match victory.
The big win over Wake Forest on Friday night propelled the Cougars to two straight set victories in Saturday’s doubleheader.
In the afternoon matchup with Stetson, the two teams played a close first game, but with set point at 24-23, Morello sealed the game one win.
Charleston cruised to a game two win, 25-16, before finding themselves in a tough third game to close out the victory. After Stetson knotted the score at 20, the Cougars scored five of the next six points, including three straight kills by Howley to win the game (25-21) and the match.
During the nightcap, Charleston took on Cal State Fullerton with the tournament title on the line. In the event of a loss, the Cougars needed to take a minimum of two sets from the Titans to win an overall tiebreaker with Fullerton and Wake Forest, who had each lost once.
However, there was no need for tiebreaker scenarios, as Charleston dominated Fullerton in straight sets.
After Fullerton tied the score at 16 in the first game, the Cougars turned up the heat on defense and took the game 25-20.
Resilience was a common theme for the Cougars throughout the weekend. Much like in their match against Wake Forest, Charleston found themselves down 20-14 in the second game, needing a comeback run. They did just that, connecting on 11 of the next 17 points, tying the game at 24.
The weekend’s hero, Howley, recorded a kill on the next point, which was followed by a Fullerton attack error, giving the Cougars a 26-24 game two win.
In the third game, Charleston pulled away, winning 25-17 and closing the door on Fullerton.
Not surprisingly, Howley was named the tournament’s MVP on Saturday night, in large part thanks to her whopping 52 kills in the tournament. Mummey (26 total blocks) and senior libero Andi Zbojniewicz (37 total digs) were both all-tournament team selections.
There is a bit of traveling ahead for Charleston’s ladies. After traveling up Highway 17 for a matchup with Coastal Carolina on Tuesday, the team will head to Dallas next weekend to take part in the SMU Tournament against SMU, New Mexico, and Houston Baptist.