Date: Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014
Start Time: 3:00 pm
City: Charleston, S.C.
Arena: F. Mitchell Johnson Center (750)
Series History: CofC leads series, 4-1
Last Matchup: CofC def. Hofstra 3-2 on 11/14/14
College of Charleston: Jason Kepner
Eighth Year at CofC: 200-67 (.748)
All-Time Record: 200-67 (.748)
Hofstra: Emily Mansur
Second Season at Hofstra: 42-20 (.677)
All-Time Record: 42-20 (.677)
Television: MyTV Charleston
Live Stream Provider: CAA.TV (Stretch Internet)
Live Stream Link: http://bit.ly/1toWWZz
Live Stats: CofCStats.com
The time is now for College of Charleston volleyball, as they gear up to take on the Hofstra Pride in the title match of the 2014 CAA Championship. With a berth in the NCAA tournament on the line, a capacity crowd is expected at the Johnson Center, where head coach Jason Kepner and co. will be fighting to claim their second consecutive CAA Championship crown.
The Cougars enter the match on the heels of a spectacular effort against UNCW on Saturday afternoon, clawing their way back from two sets down to ward off elimination and earn the right to play in front of their home faithful for the final time this season.
The Cougars entered the tournament as marginal favorites after claiming the regular season title in a five-set win at Hofstra on Nov. 14, however, the matchup appears even now as the Pride – who boast the best record of anyone in The Colonial – swept past James Madison in yesterday’s second semifinal and appear to be playing their best volleyball of the season.
Individually for the Cougars, it’s a phenomenal group of veterans who lead the charge, championed by the offensive-minded likes of Cara Howley, Sloane White and Melissa Morello. Howley – a second team all-conference selection – has played numerous positions for the Cougars this season, racking up 410 kills, while White continues to play well on the right side. Morello – a junior who leads the team in put-aways – has also been tremendous, playing all six rotations, passing well and terrorizing the opposition on the outside.
Defensively, the Cougars are one of the best teams in the nation, led by 2014 CAA Libero of the Year Andi Zbojniewicz and 2013 setter of the year, Kallie McKown. Zbojniewicz is one of the best defensive specialists in the country and has tallied 639 digs on the season – the fourth highest single season total in program history. Equally impressive, McKown leads the CAA in double-doubles and has dished out 786 assists on the season, while also picking up 409 digs.
One of the best head coaches in the country, CofC Volleyball head man Jason Kepner won his 200th match on Saturday. Kepner has won a regular season or conference tournament championship in each of his eight years in the Lowcountry.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION…
Second-seeded Hofstra came just one set away from hosting the championship tournament, before ultimately falling to the Cougars in the regular season finale. Fueling the Pride’s fire is Senior Kelsie Wills, who was named 2014 CAA Player of the Year, as well as sophomore Hannah Klemm who was tabbed CAA Setter of the Year. Together, along with some other talented specialists, Hofstra’s offense can be deadly. Wills leads the league in kills (459) and kills per set (4.21), while Klemm leads the conference in assists (1,253) and assists per set (11.60). Defensively, opponents only hit .154 percent through the regular season and the Pride ranked second in the CAA with 2.35 blocks per set. All-CAA first team member Nuria Lopes da Silva has played in all 109 sets for the Pride this season and ranks first on her team with 118 blocks.
Location: Hempstead, N.Y.
Conference: Colonial Athletic Association
2014 Record: (24-4, 11-2 Colonial)
2013 Record: 17-15 (6-8 Colonial)
Series History vs. CofC: CofC Leads Series, 4-1
Players to Watch: Kelsey Wills (OH, 4.53 k/set)
2014 Preseason Conference Poll Placement: 4th/9
Notable Alumni: Christopher Walken (Oscar-winning actor) & Nelson DeMille (Author)
A LOOK BACK AT THE LAST MATCHUP: COFC 3, HOFSTRA 2
In their most recent matchup this season, College of Charleston volleyball clinched either a regular season or conference tournament championship title, after the Cougars downed the Pride of Hofstra University in an emotional five-set thriller, 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-10) to claim the 2014 Colonial Athletic Association regular season title.
“I’m just really proud of this group,” said head coach Jason Kepner after the match. “We came here to with the intent to win a conference championship and that was probably one of the better matches we’ve played all year. Everybody played great for us tonight – I’m just really proud of this team and the way they came out and performed.”
Senior Cara Howley led the way for the Cougars offensively, hitting at a sensational .481 clip en route to 16 kills, while junior Melissa Morello also impressed, continuing her string of great performances with 15 kills of her own. Ever-consistent senior right-side hitter Sloane White notched 14 put-aways and middle blocker Catey Warren had one of the best performances of her Cougar career, hitting .429 with eight kills and seven blocks. Orchestrating the attack was senior setter Kallie McKown, who dished out 32 assists, helping her team to a .316 overall hitting percentage.
Defensively, senior libero Andi Zbojniewicz was tremendous, picking up 25 digs against a Hofstra attack rated as one of the conference’s best. Howley, Morello and White combined for 10 blocks along the front row, while freshman setter Mackenzie Cooler dished out 22 assists and chipped in with three blocks of her own.
AWARDS GALORE! COUGARS RAKE IN ALL-CAA SELECTIONS (11/19)
Seven members of the College of Charleston volleyball team were honored with all-conference status on Wednesday evening, highlighted by first-team All-CAA selection Sloane White and Defensive Player of the Year, Andi Zbojniewicz.
Headlining the Cougars wealth of All-CAA selections is White, a senior right-side hitter, who more than lived up to her preseason billing, hitting .279 in 2014 with 336 kills. White is one of the most prolific attacking players in program history, checking in at eighth all-time in kills, while also nearing a .300 career hitting percentage – a feat achieved by just six other players in the history of CofC volleyball.
Joining White in the plaudits is senior libero Andi Zbojniewicz, who along with being named second team All-CAA, was also selected as The Colonial’s Defensive Specialist of the Year. Zbojniewicz has enjoyed a magisterial senior season in the Lowcountry, differentiating herself as not just one of the best defensive specialists in the conference, but in the country as well, where she finished the regular season ranked 12th among Division I competitors with 611 total digs. The Manhattan Beach native ranks second in the CAA in total digs as well as digs/game with a 6.01 average and has started all of the Cougars’ 122 sets this season.
Fellow senior Cara Howley joins Zbojniewicz as a second-team all-conference selection, following a stellar regular season in which the McKinney, Texas native – who is currently earning her master’s degree in Communications from The College – notched a team high 395 kills (3.24/set). Versatile and dynamic, Howley has played everywhere for the Cougars this season, terrorizing defenders on the right, outside and in the middle, while also proving her worth on the defensive end, picking up 238 digs. As talented in the classroom as she is on the court, Howley graduated early from the University of South Carolina before attending CofC and was awarded with a well-regarded Global Communications internship with Nike this past summer.
Also of note are the exploits of junior outside hitter Melissa Morello, who was conferred with All-CAA third team status on Wednesday after a season in which the Milwaukee, Wis., native hammered home 390 kills (3.20/set). On top of providing the firepower, Morello also proved herself to be perhaps the Cougars most well-rounded player, often playing all six rotations and racking up 398 digs (second only to Zbojniewicz). A Communications major, Morello is one of the brightest student-athletes on campus, carrying a 3.8 GPA to boot.
Indicative of the Cougars’ bright future, both Mackenzie Cooler and Krissy Mummey earned places on the conference’s All-Rookie team. Cooler – who plays as the second setter in the Cougars’ 6-2 attack – was tremendous in her debut campaign, dishing out 541 assists (4.87/set) while also managing two CAA Rookie of the Week selections. Mummey – originally from Hudson, Ohio – has also been great for The College, especially at the net, where the 6’3” middle tallied 101 blocks (1.03/set) for the maroon and white.
Garnering credit for her intellectual pursuits is local product Catey Warren, who earns a place on the CAA All-Academic team. Warren is currently pursuing a double-major in Biology and Public Health and is a member of the school’s prestigious Honors College.
COOLER AND ZBOJNIEWICZ EARN WEEKLY CAA HONORS (11/17)
Two College of Charleston volleyball standouts earned weekly all-conference awards as senior libero Andi Zbojniewicz and freshman setter Mackenzie Cooler garnered both Defensive Player and Rookie of the Week honors, as announced by the conference office.
Needing to win their final two matches in order to ensure a 14th consecutive regular season or conference tournament championship, both Zbojniewicz and Cooler were phenomenal for The College this past week, guiding the team to a four-set Wednesday night win over Northeastern, as well as an unforgettable five set thriller on Friday night in Long Island to clinch the regular season crown and hosting rights for the 2014 CAA Volleyball Championship.
Zbojniewicz – a native of Manhattan Beach, Calif. – had 50 digs in nine sets of action (5.55/set) while also chipping in with eight assists.
Cooler was also impressive, managing 46 assists, 10 digs and four blocks in nine sets of work.
Zbojniewicz (2) and Cooler (3) have now combined for five weekly honors this season, while the Cougars as a team have racked up eight.
Towson’s Victoria Williams won the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week award.
MORELLO TABBED AS CAA OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK (11/03)
Junior outside hitter Melissa Morello was selected as the CAA Offensive Player of the Week
after she helped guide CofC to a perfect 2-0 record over the weekend, where The College twice earned thrilling come-from-behind, five set victories to claim a place at the top of the conference standings.
Against Blue Hens, the junior outside hitter put away a career-high 23 kills, while also chipping in defensively with 17 digs. Morello was then back at it with 16 kills and 18 digs as the Cougars fought from two sets down to defeat Towson.
The award marks the Cougars’ sixth conference player of the week honor of the season.
ZBOJNIEWICZ EARNS CAA AND ECAC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONORS (10/28)
After being honored as the CAA Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, College of Charleston volleyball senior Andi Zbojniewicz was named ECAC Libero of the Week on Wednesday, as announced by the conference office.
Zbojniewicz, a native of Manhattan Beach, Calif., was fantastic for the Cougars registering 25 digs in a sweep of highly-touted James Madison on Friday at TD Arena, before notching another 23 digs in a 3-1 victory over William & Mary on Sunday afternoon. She finished the week averaging 6.9 digs per set.
COOLER SELECTED AS CAA ROOKIE OF THE WEEK…..AGAIN (10/13)
Setter Mackenzie Cooler was named CAA Rookie of the Week for the second consecutive time on Monday, as announced by the conference office.
Cooler – a native of Blufton, S.C., – racked up her third double-double in four matches on Saturday night, dishing out 18 assists and digging up 10 balls in a four set victory over 2013 conference runners-up Northeastern. Her performance came less than 24 hour removed from a 21 assist, eight dig display against Hofstra on Friday evening.
On the season, Cooler has played in 73 sets and managed 340 assists (4.66 /set), while also chipping in defensively with 121 digs (1.66 /set).
Cooler’s recognition marks the third consecutive week that a Cougar has won the conference’s rookie of the week award. Freshman middle blocker Krissy Mummey was also honored on Sept, 29.
Towson’s Victoria Williams won the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week award, while Hofstra’s Emily Burke garnered the defensive honors.
For an updated look at the 2014 CAA volleyball standings, click here.
COOLER SELECTED AS CAA ROOKIE OF THE WEEK (10/6)
Freshman setter Mackenzie Cooler was named CAA Rookie of the Week on Monday, as announced by the conference office.
The Blufton, S.C., native helped the Cougars navigate a difficult weekend road swing through Virginia, downing both William & Mary and James Madison on Friday and Sunday.
Cooler – who plays as the second setter in the Cougars’ 6-2 attack – racked up two double-doubles over the weekend, combining for 47 assists (5.88 /set) and 23 digs (2.88 /set). On the season, Cooler has played in 64 sets and dished out 301 assists (4.70 /set), while also chipping in defensively with 103 digs (1.61 /set).
Cooler’s recognition marks the second consecutive week that a Cougar has won the conference’s rookie of the week award. Freshman middle blocker Krissy Mummey was the previous recipient.
Cooler splits the award with fellow newcomer Sydney Busa (Elon), while Hannah Klemm earns offensive player of the week recognition. Defensively, UNC Wilmington’s Meredith Peacock takes home top honors.
MUMMEY SELECTED AS CAA ROOKIE OF THE WEEK (9/29)
College of Charleston volleyball’s freshman middle blocker Krissy Mummey was also named CAA Rookie of the Week, as announced by the conference office on September 29, 2014.
The Hudson, Ohio, native helped lead the Cougars to back-to-back wins over Towson and Delaware in CofC’s opening weekend of CAA action.
Mummey tallied13 blocks over the weekend (1.63 blocks/set), while also helping out offensively with 16 kills on 35 swings — good enough for a .345 hitting percentage. Mummey now has 124 kills and 81 blocks on the season.
Hofstra’s Kelsie Wills won the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week award, while Northeastern’s Natalia Skiba garnered the defensive honors.
HOWLEY SELECTED AS CAA OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK (9/15)
College of Charleston volleyball’s senior right-side hitter Cara Howley was selected as the CAA Offensive Player of the Week on September 15, 2014.
The McKinney, Texas, native led CofC to a perfect 4-0 record, including being handed tournament MVP honors at the Cougars’ home-hosted CofC Classic.
Howley threw down 66 kills (4.71/set) for The College, hitting .461. Her 26-kill outburst against Wake Forest on Friday night was both a career-high and the eighth most kills ever recorded by a CofC player in single match.
The standout senior also chipped in with 37 digs and six blocks.
UNCW’s Morgan Owney won the Defensive Player of the Week award, while Northeastern’s Brigitte Burcescu won Rookie of the Week.
COUGARS SELECTED AS PRESEASON FAVORITES TO WIN THE COLONIAL (8/19)
The College received six of the possible 9 first-place votes and 62 total points, while James Madison, which received two first-place votes, came in second with 52 total points. Northeastern – last year’s CAA championship runner-up – grabbed 48 points and one first-place vote to finish third. Hofstra, UNCW, and Delaware all rounded out the next three spots with 37, 36, and 35 points, respectively. Towson, the league’s 2012 champion, received 23 points for seventh in the poll, followed by William & Mary (20 points) and first-year league newcomer Elon (16). The Cougars have now been chosen at the top of the preseason poll for three consecutive seasons, dating back to their final SoCon campaign in 2012.
WHITE NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-CAA TEAM (8/21)
A native of Indianapolis, Ind., senior right side hitter Sloane White enters her final season in the maroon and white fresh off the heels of a stellar junior campaign in which she landed the third highest hitting percentage in the conference (.309), was second on the team in kills (2.58) and garnered numerous individual accolades, including first team all-CAA, AVCA All-Regional Honorable Mention and CAA All-Tournament team honors. After hitting a career best .650 in a win over Seattle, White went on to surpass the 1,000 career kills mark in a virtuoso CAA title match performance against Northeastern, registering a career high 15 kills.
Equally adept on the sand, White teamed up with fellow senior Andi Zbojniewicz in 2013, posting a 13-5 combined record that included a Fiesta on Siesta tournament title and top-notch wins over LSU, ULM, Oregon, UAB and South Carolina.
Joining White in the preseason plaudits are fellow senior and 2013 CAA Setter of the Year Kallie McKown as well as 2013 All-CAA second team standout Cara Howley – both of whom were named as preseason honorable mentions.
A HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE
Under eighth year head coach, Jason Kepner (200-67), the Cougars have experienced an unprecedented run of success, including an incredible mark of 101-13 in conference play, dating back to the 2008 season. Kepner has also led the Cougars to four NCAA Tournament appearances and has won the regular season or conference tournament title in every season as head coach. As a program, College of Charleston volleyball has claimed a conference championship – either the regular season or tournament – in each of the last 14 seasons for a streak that currently ranks second in all of NCAA Division I volleyball.
CONNECTING WITH THE COUGARS
For all of the latest news and information on Cougar volleyball, you can follow the program @CofCVolleyball and @CofCSports or follow the team on Facebook here.