Coastal’s historic volleyball season halted by Tar Heels

ccuvol-uncThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team ended its historic 2016 season Saturday night as the Chanticleers fell in four sets (25-23, 19-25, 17-25, 16-25) to #7 North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Carmichael Arena.

Coastal closes the season with a 28-5 overall record, marking the program’s highest win total in a season. The Chants also won the program’s first NCAA Tournament match with a five-set victory over James Madison in the tournament’s opening round.

Leah Hardeman led Coastal against the Tar Heels with a match-high of 25 kills, a .377 hitting percentage and 13 digs. It is the second straight year that the junior outside hitter has put down at least 25 kills in an NCAA Tournament match, as she landed a career-high 27 shots against #16 Creighton in 2015. Saturday’s performance also marked Hardeman’s 14th double-double of the season. Sara Boothe and Carla Cahill also registered match-highs of 30 assists and 28 digs, respectively. Natasa Savovic paced the Chants in blocks with four.

Hardeman recorded eight kills and eight digs to lead the Chants in their opening-set win. Coastal was ahead for the majority of the set and even led by as many as five points, though UNC continued to battle back and even the score on seven occasions. The Chants went in front for good after Hardeman’s eighth kill gave CCU set point, and Alise Petersone stuffed Taylor Leath at the net to finish it off. But the Tar Heels regrouped to win three straight sets and close out the match.

North Carolina hit .310 as a team while limiting Coastal to .178. The Tar Heels also finished with 12.5 team blocks to Coastal’s five. The Tar Heels were led by the 14 kills and .565 hitting percentage of Hayley McCorkle. Taylor Leath put down 13 kills, and Beth Nordhorn had 11 with a .667 hitting percentage. Taylor Fricano paced UNC with eight blocks.

Saturday’s match was the final one for Chanticleer seniors Savovic, Tahleia Bishop and Annayka Legros. Legros led Coastal to its first NCAA Tournament win with 19 kills against JMU on Friday, was a first team All-Sun Belt selection in 2016 and finishes her career ranked second on Coastal’s all-time list in hitting percentage. Bishop was named the 2016 Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year, and the Chanticleers won 53 matches over the past two seasons with Savovic in the lineup.

Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics

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