Lady Chants storm into finals of Big South tournament

Second-seed Coastal Carolina defeated the sixth-seed UNC Asheville 3-1 in the semifinals of the 2012 Big South Volleyball Championship at Paul Porter Arena on the campus of Gardner-Webb University on Friday night.

Coastal advances to Sunday’s championship match, its first appearance in the title game since 2009, and will play top-seed Liberty for the Big South’s automatic bid to the NCAA Volleyball Championship.  Sunday’s game will air live on ESPN3 at 2 p.m.

“Of course we are excited,” said CCU coach Jozsef Forman. “Asheville played really well. They had great ball control and played very smart. We are excited about the finals – nobody expected it. I am really excited about my team and Coastal Carolina. We are looking forward to playing Liberty on Sunday.”

Coastal Carolina improves to 14-13 on the year, while UNC Asheville ends its season at 12-20. It was the first Tournament meeting between Coastal Carolina and UNC Asheville since the 2009 semifinals, which was won by the Chanticleers, and the fourth overall.

The Chanticleers advance to their first Big South Volleyball Championship match since winning it all in 2009, and will make their sixth appearance in the title contest. Coastal Carolina is looking to become the first No. 2 seed to win the volleyball title since High Point in 2010. The Chants have won three championships – 1996, 1998 and 2009.

Coastal Carolina clinched the fourth set, 25-21, to advance to its sixth Big South Volleyball Championship match. The Chanticleers were up 2-1 entering the decisive fourth set. Coastal jumped to an early lead, which Asheville tried to erase.  The Bulldogs’ defensive efforts kept them in the set but the Chanticleers outperformed Asheville offensively in the contest. Gabriella Horvath led the Chants, recording five kills and two digs. The set concluded with a kill by Coastal’s Eszter Nagy.

The Chants jumped to a 2-1 lead after the third set. The set was closely fought but in the end Coastal won, 26-24. The Chanticleers took a six-point lead halfway through the set. UNC Asheville battled its way within two at 18-20 after a big block from Meredith Foster and Holly Shelton. A Kindra Bailey kill made it set point for the Chanticleers and they won the set off of an Asheville error.

Coastal Carolina tied the match 1-1 after switching gears to win the second set, 25-13. Coastal went on a five-point run to gain the 10-6 lead. Asheville tried to rally back but Bulldog errors allowed the Chants to extend its lead out of reach.

UNC Asheville went ahead 1-0 with a 25-22 first set victory. The two teams battled back and forth but the Chanticleers committed errors down the stretch, allowing UNC Asheville to take a late lead. A Horvath swing shifted momentum Coastal’s way but Asheville countered with a kill of its own. Bulldog Jaimie Dorfman ended the first set with an ace.

Coastal was led offensively by Bailey, who posted 13 kills, a service ace and five blocks. She was the highest scoring player for Coastal, earning 18 points with her performance. Horvath added 14 kills, a team-high 16 digs and a solo block. Nagy chipped in 10 kills and a pair of blocks. Junior setter Lauren Alejo had 32 assists and seven digs while Sam Skryd had 16 assists and 12 digs.

Anna Moore spearheaded UNC Asheville’s offense in the losing effort. She had 11 kills, two digs and one service ace. Rachel Wells anchored the Bulldogs’ defense, posting 15 digs in the match.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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