The College of Charleston volleyball team will face No. 23 Miami in the first round of the NCAA volleyball tournament Friday at 5 p.m. at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.
This will be the fourth straight time the Cougars have played in a Gainesville regional during the single-elimination tournament. The Cougars played on Florida’s campus during the NCAA tournament in 2009, 2007 and 2006. The Cougars fell to Florida 3-0 in 2009 and 2007, and lost to Arizona State, 3-1, in 2006.
The winner of the C of C- Miami match takes on the winner of Florida-Tulsa on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Miami advanced to the title match of the ACC tournament and fell to Florida State, 3-1, but received an at-large bid to the NCAAs.
“We’re really confident right now,” said College of Charleston coach Jason Kepner. “The team is playing great together, and that’s what you need to do when you go to the NCAA tournament.”
The Cougars earned an automatic bid to this year’s tournament by defeating Furman in a five-set thriller in the title match of the Southern Conference tournament in Davidson, N.C.
The College of Charleston, making its seventh trip to the NCAAs, has won 12 straight regular season or SoCon tournament championships, the second-longest streak in the nation.
The Cougars have been led this season by redshirt-junior Darcy Dorton, who transferred to C of C from Penn State. She has amassed 498 kills and will look to become the first Cougars player in the rally scoring era (since 2001) to record 500 kills in one season.
Sophomore Sloane White, who earned SoCon tournament MVP honors, finished the season on a tear, hitting .453 in the SoCon Tournament and finishing second on the team with 336 kills.
The middle blockers stepped up immensely after entering the season with relatively little playing time as Emily Neideffer (228 kills, 87 blocks) and Kerstin Koehler (185 kills, 101 blocks) helped to shore up the middle of the net and take over after the departures of C of C greats Elyse Chubb and Sarah Havel.
Freshman Melissa Morello was a surprising performer as she earned SoCon All-Freshman honors after finishing third on the team with 241 kills. Setter Taeler Davis also surprised many by averaging 12.04 assists per set as the full-time starter after taking over for the injured Kallie McKown. Senior Emily Shelton closed out her final season with 638 digs, the third-most in a single season in C of C history.