Coastal Ends Season With 3-1 Loss to #9 Creighton
OMAHA, Neb. - The Coastal Carolina volleyball team saw its season come to a close Friday night as it fell 3-1 to ninth-seeded Creighton in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship. The match was played in front of 2,517 spectators, the second-largest crowd in D.J. Sokol Arena history.
Coastal ends its season 20-8 overall, its fourth consecutive 20-plus win season. Creighton (26-6) advances to play Michigan State in Saturday's second round match.
The four-set loss (20-25, 25-27, 25-20, 22-25) spoiled a fantastic end to the career of senior Leah Hardeman, who led the match with 25 kills to become Coastal's all-time leader in the category with 1,811. Entering the match, Hardeman needed 21 kills to tie the previous record holder, Chelsy Kimes.
Hardeman accompanied her kill total with a .490 hitting percentage, three aces and 14 digs to both lead Coastal and complete her 18th double-double of the season. She was the only Chanticleer to finish with double-digit kills.
Despite the score, the teams were very evenly matched. Creighton held slight advantages in kills (52-48), hitting percentage (.209 - .184) and digs (58-48), and each side tallied 10 blocks.
The Blujays were led by the 13 kills of Marysa Wilkinson and 12 kills of Jaali Winters. Winters added 14 digs to match Hardeman's double-double.
A streak of five unanswered points by Creighton during the first set allowed the Bluejays to take the match's initial lead. The set had been close up until that point, and Coastal led 13-12 before Creighton went on its run. The Chants attempted to answer by winning three straight points of their own, but the two-point deficit was as close as they came to evening the set.
Coastal had an opportunity to even the match in the second set as it forced Creighton to use both timeouts before taking a 24-21 lead. Two Coastal errors and a kill by Winters tied the set, and the Bluejays finished off the set with another CCU error and Winters kill.
Coastal hit its best in the third set, posting a .294 percentage to Creighton's .100. Hardeman put down seven kills for the second straight set, and Sydney Alvis provided six digs defensively. The Chants struck early in the set, winning six straight points on the serve of Hardeman, who accounted for four of the points on three aces and a kill. That stretch gave the Chants a 14-8 lead, and Creighton was unable to recover.
The fourth set was as tight as the first two, and was knotted late at 20-20. That was the turning point of the set, as Creighton claimed the next three points on a kill and two Coastal errors. The Chants won the following two points to trim the Bluejays lead to one, but another Winers' kill and CCU error put an end to the match.
Not only does Hardeman end her career as the Chants' all-time kills leader, she is also the first student-athlete in NCAA Division I women's volleyball history to be a four-time conference Player of the Year. Hardeman is also a two-time AVCA All-Region selection, and ranks among the top-10 leaders in CCU history in nine statistical categories.