Cougars Fall To Miami, 3-1, In NCAA Opening Round

Cougars Fall To Miami, 3-1, In NCAA Opening Round
Courtesy: CofC Athletics

Gainesville, FL - The No. 21 ( Mid-Major Poll) College of Charleston volleyball team battled for every point and out-hit the University of Miami for much of the match, but were unable to weather the storm as the Cougars fell to the Hurricanes, 3-1, in the opening round of the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship on Thursday evening.

University of Miami (22-5) won the match by scores of 25-21, 21-25, 25-20, and 25-15 to advance to Friday's second round. College of Charleston ends its season with a 27-6 overall record, its 15th regular season conference championship – and second in the Colonial Athletic Association – and the first-ever at-large bid in both program and CAA history. The Hurricanes finished the match with 56 kills, 49 digs, 12 blocks, 10 service aces, and a .274 hitting percentage, while the Cougars totaled 42 kills, 40 digs, 10 blocks, and a .176 attacking clip.

"I am proud of my team," said head coach Jason Kepner. "We did a good job throughout, following our game plan. We started a little slow, Miami did a good job being aggressive in the first game, but we recovered moving forward. We were 20-20 in the third in and let those next six points slip away. It gave them the momentum they needed in the fourth set. I am very proud of the effort our girls put up against a great Miami team."

Kennedy Madison (Evansville, Ind.) paced the Cougars with 11 kills, four blocks, and a team-high .455 hitting percentage, as Krissy Mummey (Hudson, Ohio) concludes her career with a 10-kill, five-block performance to go along with two service aces. Jane Feddersen (Leesburg, Va.) added six kills, five blocks, and a .455 attacking clip, as Lauren Freed (Troy, Ohio) and Devon Rachel (Louisville, Ky.) each chipped in seven kills. Allison Beckman (Apex, N.C.) and McKala Rhodes (Charleston, S.C.) tallied 38 assists and 11 digs, respectively.

"This is the first time this group has had a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament and understand that the hard work you put in is something to build upon for next season," Kepner continued. "Not just striving to win the conference championship, but focusing on the importance of early season matches. They have more understanding of what it takes to get to the NCAA Tournament now and we will continue to build upon it."

Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Olga Strantzali led the way for Miami with 14 kills, eight digs, two blocks, and a .367 hitting percentage, while Elizaveta Lukianova recorded 14 kills, two blocks, and a .435 attacking clip. Madison Dill, Lucia Pampana, and Kolby Bird each added eight kills, as Haley Templeton tallied 47 assists, nine digs, six blocks, and four kills. Sylvia Hernandez posted a match-high 15 digs.

For Mummey, she caps a storybook career at The College that included a record-setting senior campaign. This season, the 6-foot-3 middle blocker posted career-highs of 347 kills (3.02 per set) and 106 blocks (0.92 per set), while garnering CAA Player of the Year honors and establishing a new single-season program record with a .410 hitting percentage. Mummey concludes her career with 800 kills and a .292 hitting percentage, and ranks seventh on the program's all-time blocks list (337).

"With this being my senior year, it was a great time to end on such a good note" Mummey said. "This has been a goal of mine all four years, so it was a lot of fun. We have seen high competition in early season matches, but it was fun to end with high competition. I am proud of everyone on my team for sticking together and giving Miami a fight. It didn't turn out how we wanted it to, but I had so much fun this whole season."

Feddersen finishes her two-year tenure at The College with 233 kills and 181 blocks – including career-best totals of 156 and 123, respectively, this season. The 6-foot-2 middle blocker ends her Cougar career ranked fifth on the program's all-time list with a .314 hitting percentage, and ranks third in blocks per set (1.03).

The Cougars also bid farewell to seniors Natalie Tucker (Isle of Palms, S.C.) and Riana Brennan (Los Gatos, Calif.). In her single season at The College, Tucker appeared in 57 sets while totaling 74 assists, 32 digs, and seven service aces. Brennan concludes her two-year tenure Cougar career with 224 kills, 367 digs, 43 service aces, and 30 blocks.

The Cougars are expected to return nine letter-winners from this year's squad, including rising seniors Madison, Rachel, Beckman, and Rhodes.