TOWSON, MD -- The University of Delaware's dream of a third straight
Colonial Athletic Association volleyball title came up agonizingly short
Sunday afternoon as Hofstra fought back from a 2-1 deficit to win the
final two sets and down the Blue Hens 3-2 in the CAA Tournament
championship game at the Towson University Center.
The No. 2 seed Blue Hens, the two-time defending league champions, took
a 2-1 lead after a dominating 25-12 victory in the third set, but the
No. 4 seed Pride fought back to win their first CAA title since 2006 by
winning the fourth set 25-23 and taking the deciding fifth set by a
It marked the fifth straight year that the CAA championship match has
gone the full five sets. The set scores were 18-25, 25-16, 12-25, 25-23,
Delaware, which defeated No. 6 James Madison 3-1 in Saturday's
semifinal, had a four-match win streak snapped to end the season with a
mark of 16-14 that included eight wins in the last 10 matches. The Hens,
who won CAA titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011, were trying to become
the first team since George Mason in 1992-96 to win three straight
Hofstra, which defeated No. 5 William & Mary 3-0 in the quarterfinals
Friday and top seed and undefeated regular season champion Towson 3-2 in
the semifinals Saturday, improved to 21-13 with its seventh straight
victory. The Pride earns the league's automatic berth into the NCAA
Tournament. The NCAA Tournament field will be announced this coming Sunday.
"It's tough to get this far and go down," said Delaware head coach
Bonnie Kenny, whose team had won five straight CAA Tournament matches.
"They (Hofstra) are experiencing what we have felt the last two years.
It isn't fun being on this side. We just didn't play at a high enough
level today. I loved our effort but we just didn't execute when we
needed to at critical times. I was a little disappointed in our defense
today because that has been our staple all year. But Hofstra is a good
team and they deserve a lot of credit. They just kept coming at us and
took advantage when they needed to."
Senior Chelsea Lawrence led three Blue Hen in double figures kills with
15 to go with six blocks while fellow senior Alissa Alker added 12
kills, 13 digs, and seven blocks, junior Katie Hank contributed 13
kills, freshman and 2012 CAA Defensive Player of the Year Ariel Shonk
had 18 digs, and Mackenzie Olsen contributed 42 assists and 11 digs.
Lawrence and Alker were named to the All-Tournament team with Alker
being recognized for the third straight year. They were joined on the
All-Tournament team by James Madison's Danielle Erb, Towson's Katy Buck,
and Hofstra's Catalina Charry, Kylee Maneja, and Kelsie Wills of
Hofstra. Wills, who recorded a team-high 18 kills to go with 11 digs
against Delaware, was named the tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Emily Burke added 11 kills for the Pride while Charry and Sara Campolina
each had 10 with Charry adding 29 assists and 14 digs.
"This is a tough loss," said Lawrence, who like Alker was named to the
All-CAA team for the second straight year earlier in the week. "It's
disappointing because we didn't do everything we could have done to win.
But I'm proud of what we did this year. We didn't start out well (1-7
start) but we fought back and really stuck together. It has been an
amazing experience to be part of Delaware volleyball."
Delaware led almost the entire way in the first set as Lawrence knocked
down six kills without an error on the way to 25-18 win. But the Pride
bounced right back to take the second game by a 25-16 score as Wells
recorded five kills and Delaware hit just .057 with six attack errors.
After the break, Delaware came out strong in the third game to take an
easy 25-12 victory. The Hens built on an 11-6 lead with five straight
points to go up 16-6 and Hofstra never got closer than 10 the rest of
the way. The Pride hit negative .068 for the set as Delaware performed
well at the net.
But the rest of the match belonged to Hofstra, which avenged a 3-2 loss
to Delaware back on Oct. 20 at the Bob Carpenter Center. The Pride tied
the match up at 2-2 with a 25-23 win in the fourth set. Delaware rallied
back from a 12-8 deficit midway through the set and eventually took a
20-17 lead. Hofstra fought back to tie the match at 22-22 and secured
the victory on a service ace by Maneja.
That set the stage for a hard-fought fifth set that the Pride eventually
captured. Lawrence scored three straight points for the Hens on two
kills and a service ace to give Delaware a 7-5 lead. Hofstra answered
with three straight points to take an 8-7 lead, and after a kill by
Delaware's Alker, scored three straight again to go up 10-8.
Delaware fought back on a kill by Alker and a block assist from Lawrence
and Katie Hillman to tie the set at 10-10, but that would be the last
share of the lead the Hens would enjoy. Wills added two straight kills
for the Pride for a 12-10 lead before the Hens cut the margin to one on
a service error.
But Wills and Campolina came back with consecutive kills and Campolina
ended the match with a kill at the net, setting off a wild celebration
for Hofstra that the Blue Hens couldn't bare to watch.
HOFSTRA (Kills-Assists-Digs-Blocks): Aja, 1-0-0-3; Kinnier, 9-0-2-3;
Wills, 18-2-11-2; Campolina, 10-4-2-4; Charry, 10-29-14-0; Burke,
11-0-3-2; Delgadillo, 0-1-9-0; Ocasek, 0-23-14-0; Maneja, 0-0-17-0;
DELAWARE (Kills-Assists-Digs-Blocks): Olsen, 0-42-11-0; Reigel, 0-0-6-0;
Hillman, 2-0-4-7; Bryant, 5-0-0-7; Alker, 12-1-13-7; Lawrence, 15-0-0-6;
Hank, 13-0-5-0; Shonk, 0-1-18-0; Krapf, 0-1-8-0; Totals, 47-45-65; 13.5