Cougars capture SoCon Tournament title, earn NCAA bid

Cougars capture SoCon Tournament title, earn NCAA bid

Sloane White goes up for a front line kill in TD Arena. White was named Tournament MVP after tallying 16 kills in the finale. Photo courtesy Colin Johnson

College of Charleston’s volleyball team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Monday evening, as they captured the Southern Conference championship over Furman, 3-2.

The Cougars faced tough competition to arrive in the championship game, taking out Chattanooga and last year’s winners, the Samford Bulldogs over the weekend.

Friday’s matchup with the Mocs of Chattanooga allowed Charleston to display its offensive dominance.

Four Cougars tallied double-digit kills, including 18 from Sloane White, who hit .552, a new career-high, to lead her squad to a 3-1 victory.

Saturday’s win over the Bulldogs was especially sweet: Samford swept the Cougars in last year’s championship.

Charleston continued its well-spread offense, this time led by Darcy Dorton, who notched 19 kills. Emily Neideffer put up big numbers as well, tallying double digit kills on both occasions.

Three Cougars boasted double-doubles in the “revenge” match over the Bulldogs, displaying how hungry they were for the win, which they took, 3-1.

In the finale of the tournament, a hard fought battle against Furman’s Paladins, dominance shifted between the teams in each set.

Fortunately for the Cougars, who earned a first-set win handily  the every-other-set dominance ended in their favor, a 3-2 victory. After four sets of aggressive and passionate play, the score was tied at two sets all.

Big blocks from Kerstin Koehler and White gave Charleston a 6-3 advantage before a 4-1 run tied the fifth set at 8 all. Tension was palpable, as every point in the 15-point set became a game-changer.

White’s kill led to the switch, followed by a solo block for Dorton. That gave the Cougars a small advantage that they carried all the way to a set victory, 15-13, and a match victory, 3-2.

The same four Cougars, Dorton, White, Neideffer and Melissa Morello, tallied double-digit kills, led again by Dorton.

White’s consistent performance over the weekend earned her the Tournament MVP award. Setter Taeler Davis and libero Emily Shelton also earned All-Tournament team honors.

Davis tied her career high with 63 assists in Friday’s match before boasting a double-double on Saturday with 59 assists and 10 digs. Shelton tallied an astonishing 30 digs in the title match.

Charleston heads into the NCAA Tournament with a Top-50 RPI and will find out their opponent on Sunday, Nov. 25, during the ESPNU Selection Show.

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