College of Charleston won an exciting five-set thriller over rival Furman to capture the 2012 Southern Conference Tournament and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The championship is the seventh tournament title for CofC and the 12th-straight regular season or tournament championship dating back to 2001. Seven tournament championships is more than any other SoCon program.
With the win, College of Charleston improves to 26-7 on the season while Furman fell to 24-10. The razor tight match feature 20 ties and seven lead changes as the championship point came down to a 15-13 margin in the fifth set.
It was the second time that the Cougars won a five-setter over Furman this season, and marked the first tournament title for the dynastic Cougars since 2009 when CofC also beat Furman in the tournament final.
"It was an emotional ending to a great match," head coach Jason Kepner said. "Give Furman tons of credit for battling all the way to the end. They are a tremendous program and had a great group of seniors. We were able to force them into our game plan at times and that proved to be the difference."
Sophomore Sloane White was selected as the Tournament MVP after she tallied 16 kills, 6 blocks, 4 digs and hit .394 in the Championship match. Taeler Davis was named to the All-Tournament team after notching 53 assists in the final, and senior Emily Shelton also earned All-Tournament honors as she notched 30 digs in the title match.
Darcy Dorton made 18 kills for College of Charleston and tallied 11 digs for her 15th double-double of the season. Emily Neideffer notched 11 kills and five blocks, and Melissa Morello made 11 kills, seven digs and five blocks.
Christina Dorismond was unstoppable for the Paladins as she made 17 kills and hit .652. Chandler Ambrester also made 17 kills and 17 digs. Jo Wilks tallied 55 assists and seniors Caroline Adams and Natalie Braun each notched 10 kills.
College of Charleston jumped out to an early 7-2 lead after several Paladin errors. Furman got as close as 14-10 after a kill from Adams, but then CofC opened the floodgates and put the set away. CofC won the next eight consecutive points and finished the set on an 11-2 run to win 25-12. The Cougar defense held Furman to -.036 in the first set, while CofC hit .333. White tallied four kills and Neideffer and Morello each had three kills.
The second set proved to be exact reverse of the first with Furman jumping out to an early 8-3 lead after a block from Ambrester. The closest CofC ever got in the second set was 10-6 after a Dorton kill. Furman only made two errors in the entire set as the Paladins ran to a 19-9 lead and eventually won the set, 25-12. Braun picked up five kills in the second frame after being shut out in the first, and the Paladins hit .364 as a team.
The teams traded points in set three until, with the score tied at 12, Furman used kills from Ambrester to take a 15-12 lead. College of Charleston then used a 9-3 run to regain the lead and push it to 22-18. A kill by Dorismond pulled Furman to within two at 23-21, but CofC used a White kill and a huge block by Koehler and Morello to take set three, 25-21.
With the score tied at 10 in set four, Furman used a 6-1 run to take a 16-11 advantage. However, the Cougars clawed back to cut the Furman lead to 17-16. In the end, the Paladins, who recorded 19 kills in the set, held off the CofC rally to take set four, 25-22.
College of Charleston took advantage of a Furman error and two consecutive blocks by Koehler and White to jump out to a 6-3 lead in set five. After a timeout, the Paladins went on a 4-1 run to tie the score at eight before a White kill put the Cougars ahead, 8-7, at the switch. CofC then used a key block by Dorton to take an 11-8 lead and force a Furman timeout. After the timeout, the Paladins used huge kills by Ambrester to cut the CofC lead to 14-13, before a kill by White won the set for the Cougars, 15-13, and the match, 3-2.
The Cougars will await their opponent in the NCAA Tournament with the ESPNU Selection Show on Sunday, November 25 at 4 p.m.