Cougars end pre-conference play on a high note

Emily Neideffer posted the second-highest hitting percentage in the Southern Conference this season during the Cougars' 3-1 win over Charleston Southern. (Colin Johnson)

College of Charleston volleyball team faced off against Charleston Southern in its final non-conference game prior to the Southern Conference season, but notably absent was sophomore star Sloane White, as well as freshmen Kari Fidelholtz and Grace Rebarchak.

All three players were present at the match but none were dressed to play. Will Bryan, the athletic department’s sports information director for volleyball, cited a violation of team rules as the reason. White was named the SoCon freshman of the year last season.

Despite the absence of the three athletes, the Cougars nabbed the victory, beating out the crosstown rival Buccaneers, 3-1, at Buccaneer Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.

A large crowd was out in support of the Bucs as the match kicked off, taking the Cougars out of their game almost immediately.

Darcy Dorton pushed the Cougars forward toward victory, hitting the 20-point mark with a six-point lead. As the Bucs tried to play catch up, mounting a small comeback late in the set, the Cougars edged toward victory, taking the first set, 25-19.

In the second game the Bucs were back on their game, following close behind the Cougars before taking a small lead at 15-13. After five uncontested points from the Bucs it looked as though the Cougars might drop the set, but a well-used timeout got Charleston back on track and the team went on an 11-4 run to close the set. Lizzie Theesfeld got the final kill to seal the set, 25-23.

The break proved advantageous for Charleston Southern, which opened the third set with a strong kill, pumping up the voracious crowd.

The Buccaneers’ front line came up big for their squad in the third, dictating the set as they went on a run, and going up 17-12. Charleston looked defeated as the Cougars halfheartedly attempted to bridge the gap before ultimately falling, 25-16.

In the fourth set, things were tied at four all before three consecutive points for Charleston put the Cougars back on their game. As the set continued in spurts, with each squad scoring in sets of twos or threes, Charleston maintained a small lead. Charleston hit 20 up four, but the Bucs quickly countered with back-to-back points of their own.

The Cougars used another well-timed break to focus, and a kill from Emily Neideffer after the timeout seemed to seal the set for the Cougars who went on a four-point run to close the fourth set, 25-19, and the match, 3-1.

Charleston’s offense had an impressive showing as Neideffer tallied ten kills, hitting a season-high .714 percentage off zero errors, the second highest hitting percentage in the SoCon this season and fourth best in school history.

Additionally, Dorton displayed a notable 21 kills on her season-high hitting percentage of .436. Freshman Melissa Morello grabbed a season-high 13 kills, while senior Kelly Kolich also hit a season-high .462 percentage on seven kills. Kerstin Koheler rounded out the offense, adding 10 kills to the Cougar tally.

This weekend marks the beginning of conference play for the Cougars as they head to Elon to open Southern Conference season against the Phoenix.

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