Coastal volleyball defends Big South Conference title

ccuvol-2015 Big South VB ChampionsLeah Hardeman, Annayka Legros and Lian Bernett each posted double figure kills, and Sara Boothe provided 46 assists as the Coastal Carolina volleyball team swept #7 Campbell (25-14, 25-15, 25-19) to repeat as Big South Conference tournament champions Sunday afternoon at High Point’s Millis Center.

Coastal’s fifth Big South tournament championship assures the Chanticleers a return trip to the NCAA Volleyball Championship. The field of 64 will be announced Sunday, Nov. 29 at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. Coastal will enter the NCAA postseason riding a program-best 18 match winning streak.

In addition to being the first Coastal team to go unbeaten against all Big South opponents, the 2015 Chants are the first in school history to win the conference tournament in consecutive years, and second to capture the regular season and tournament titles in the same year.

Sunday’s victory over Campbell improves Coastal’s overall record to 25-4 and marks the second straight season that the Chants have reached 25 wins. The 2014 and 2015 teams rank only behind the 1996 (27-7) and 2008 (27-9) squads for most wins in a season, while the .862 winning percentage of this season’s team in the best in program history.

Hardeman was named Tournament MVP as the two-time Big South Player of the Year totaled 51 kills (4.64/set) with a .362 hitting percentage, and added four aces and six blocks (two solo, four assists) for a total of 59.0 points in Coastal’s three tournament matches.

Coastal’s two seniors, Bernett and Eszter Nagy, were also named to the All-Tournament team. Bernett finished with 35.5 points in the tournament, hitting .382 while averaging 2.82 kills and 3.55 digs per set. Bernett also tallied three aces and two blocks. Nagy led the Chants with seven blocks and tied Natasa Savovic for the team lead with six aces, while also posting the third-highest hitting percentage at .396 and averaging 2.09 kills per set.

Coastal dominated Campbell in nearly every category on Sunday, outhitting the Camels .436-.138 and nearly doubling their kill total, 50-26. The Chants also held the edge in assists (48-22) and digs (47-32). Campbell’s lone advantage came at the net, where the Camels finished with three blocks to Coastal’s two.

Hardeman’s 14 kills led the match, followed by the 13 of Legros and 10 of Bernett. No Campbell hitters recorded more than six kills.

Boothe’s 46 assists are the most for the setter in a three-set match, and followed her career performance of 54 assists Friday afternoon in Coastal’s semifinal win over Winthrop. The all-freshman and honorable mention all-conference selection averaged 12.45 assists per set during the tournament while setting the Chants to a .343 hitting percentage.

Coastal never allowed Campbell to take the lead in the match, and the Camels managed to tie the score just once in the second set.

The Chants took the first five points of the opening set on the serve of Nagy and continued building their lead from there, using a .444 hitting percentage and receiving multiple kills from all five hitters.

Coastal’s hitting improved to .464 in the second set as Hardeman and Legros put down six kills apiece. Bernett added four kills of her own while pacing the Chants with four digs and a solo block. Coastal led 7-4 before winning six straight points on the serve of Hardeman to widen its lead.

Coastal continued to hit over .400 into the final set with Legros and Savovic each tallying five kills, and Hardeman registering four. The Chants built an early 5-1 lead before Campbell started to rally, resulting in a slim 10-8 advantage for Coastal. The Camels would not come any closer, however, as the ensuing 9-5 Coastal run built enough of a cushion for the Chants to close out the match.

Photo courtesy of Big South

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