Lady Chants rally in fifth set to net BSC title, NCAA bid

2014 Big South Volleyball Final Coastal vs. RadfordTrailing to Radford by as many as three points towards the end of the fifth set, the Coastal Carolina volleyball team rallied to win the set 16-14 to be named 2014 Big South Champions, and win the conference’s automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Volleyball Championship.

The Chanticleers will find out their first-round tournament opponent on Sunday, November 30, at 8:30 pm during the NCAA Selection Show, which is to be aired on ESPNU. Coastal will be making its fourth overall appearance in the NCAA Volleyball Championship.

The Big South championship is the first for Coastal since 2009, and the fourth in program history. It is also the first championship for head coach Jozsef Forman, who has led the Chanticleers to the conference final in each of his three seasons at Coastal.

Senior middle blocker Katie Martin capped off an impressive tournament performance with 24 kills against Radford, a career high, to be named the Tournament MVP. Fellow seniors Sam Skryd and Jenna Orner were also named to the All-Tournament team. Each recorded match-highs on Sunday as Skryd tallied 52 assists, and Orner registered 31 digs.

The deciding set was tied at 7-7 midway through before the Highlanders used a 5-2 run to gain momentum and build a sizeable lead.

 Leah Hardeman stopped Radford’s run with her 24th kill of the match before a Maddie Palmer hitting error brought Coastal within one. Martin then put down a kill to even up the score, and just three points later brought the set to match-point in the Chants’ favor. An attacking error from Emma Deininger proved to be the match-deciding point as Coastal won the fifth set 16-14.

 The match was even on both sides throughout as the teams traded sets prior to the fifth. Coastal won the first and third sets while Radford claimed the second and fourth.

The teams were relatively even statistically as well, though Coastal held slight advantages in hitting percentage (.190-.162), blocks (9-6) kills (65-56) and digs (94-81).

Hardeman matched Martin’s kill total at 24 to tie for the match lead, while her .278 hitting percentage led the Chants. Martin and Eszter Nagy tied Radford’s Savannah Cantrell with three blocks, while Coastal’s Hardeman and Annayka Legros each posted two.Besides Orner, Skryd (19), Lian Bernett (16) and Hardeman (14) each posted double-digit digs.

In set one, Coastal took the lead after the score was tied 5-5, and a few Hardeman kills brought the score to 12-7, before Coastal went on a 6-0 run to take the match to set point. At 23-12, Radford took two more points before a Martin kill took set one for the Chants.

Radford took the lead early in set two and never let Coastal have it back. A Savanna Burton kill sparked Radford’s 7-0 run to go up on Coastal, 20-12. Coastal responded with three points in a row, but Radford sealed the deal at 25-15 for set two.

In the third set, Coastal took an early lead and a late rally by Radford brought it back to 24-21, but a kill by Martin took the third set for Coastal to lead the match, 2-1. Started by an early Coastal lead, Radford didn’t tie the Chanticleers in set four until each team was 10 points in. Upon a Burton kill, Radford went on a 6-0 run and continued it to a 10-3 run to eventually take the match, 25-19.

Sunday’s championship match was the first to go five sets since 2004, when Winthrop edged the Chants in five set to take the conference title.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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