CCU volleyball: Storylines, streaks and stars hit NCAA

The Coastal Carolina volleyball team begins its fourth consecutive NCAA postseason on Friday when it takes on ninth-seeded Creighton in the Bluejays’ D.J. Sokol Arena at 8 p.m. ET.

Storylines

• Coastal Carolina is making its fourth consecutive NCAA postseason appearance, and seventh overall.

• The Chanticleers won the program’s first NCAA Tournament match last year, defeating James Madison in five sets in the

first round. Coastal was then eliminated with a four-set loss to #7 North Carolina in the second round.

• It is the second time in the last three years that Coastal and Creighton will face each other in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The two schools met in the first round in 2015, with Creighton winning in four sets.

• Coastal and Creighton have never met in the regular season. Friday will be just the second all-time match between the schools.

• Creighton is making its sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance following its fourth consecutive BIG EAST title.

• It is the second time in the program’s history that Creighton is a seeded team. The first was in 2015, when it faced Coastalas the #16 seed.

• Should Coastal advance to the second round, it will face either Missouri State or Michigan State for the first time in program history.

Hardeman Makes History

• After conducting a survey of the conferences’ volleyball sports information directors, it is believed that Leah Hardeman is the first student-athlete in NCAA Division I volleyball history to be a four-time conference Player of the Year.

• Several conferences reported having three-time Players of the Year, and, as of this season, the Atlantic 10 has a four-time Setter of the Year in Dayton’s Jane Emmenecker. However, no conference reported having a student-athlete receive four consecutive overall Player of the Year honors.

• Hardeman now shares that particular distinction with a fellow Chanticleer, Coastal Carolina men’s basketball alum Tony Dunkin. Dunkin is recognized as the only NCAA Division I men’s basketball player to be honored as a conference Player of the Year four times (Big South, 1989-93).

Four-Peat

• Coastal Carolina has now won four straight conference championships, and seven overall.

• The streak began with consecutive Big South championships in 2014 and 2015, and continued into the Sun Belt with championships in 2016 and 2017.

• The Chants are the ninth Sun Belt team to win back-to-back league championships. They are also the first team to win consecutive division titles since the Sun Belt implemented divisions prior to 2016.

Another Streak

• Coastal enters the NCAA postseason having won 14 straight matches, tied for the sixth-longest active streak in NCAA Division I.

• Coastal has recorded double-digit winning streaks in each of the last three season. The Chants won 18 straight matches in both 2015 and 2016, which stands as the program record for consecutive matches won. Coastal vs. AVCA Top 100 Teams

• Coastal finished with a 4-6 record versus AVCA Top 100 teams this season.

• The Chants defeated American, topped Arkansas State twice, and split a pair of matches with Texas State.

• Their losses came against Iowa (twice), Duke, North Carolina, TCU and Texas State.

Coastal vs. NCAA Tournament Teams

• The Chants faced just one NCAA postseason-bound team in the regular season.

• Coastal defeated American in three sets on Sept. 9 as part of the UNC Greensboro Spartan Spiketacular.

• The tournament was thrown together at the last second as the approach of Hurricane Irma caused several schools, including Coastal, to change playing sites and travel plans. Coastal was originally scheduled to host Ohio State, Notre Dame and North Florida that weekend for the CCU Classic.

Homecoming

• Coastal’s starting setter, Sara Boothe, is a native of Lincoln, Neb., just an hour southwest of Omaha. The junior is expecting a large turnout from family and friends to bolster the teal-clad cheering section.

• Boothe leads Coastal and ranked eighth in the Sun Belt averaging 7.04 assists per set this season while splitting time with senior Kate Federico in CCU’s 6-2 offense.

Scouting Creighton

• Creighton finished the season 25-6 overall, and was 16-2 in BIG EAST matches.

• The Bluejays won their fourth straight conference championship with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Marquette in the BIG EAST title match.

• Four Bluejays were named first team All-BIG EAST, including Lydia Dimke (10.78 aps), Jaali Winters (3.41 kps), Marysa Wilkinson (2.85 kps, .370%) and Brittany Witt (4.30 dps) who was also named the BIG EAST Libero of the Year.

• Taryn Kloth (3.05 kps) added second team all-conference honors, and was voted BIG EAST Tournament MVP.

• Creighton is led by head coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth, who is 316-159 overall in her 15th season with the Bluejays.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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