GAINESVILLE, Fla. — College of Charleston volleyball’s record-breaking season came to a bittersweet end in the second round of the NCAA tournament as No. 15 Florida took a 3-0 decision (25-20, 25-16, 25-14) to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16.
The Cougars (27-8) hung tough with the Gators (27-4) in the first set before Florida’s size and physical advantage eventually took over. The Gators hit .315 for the match and held C of C to just .079 hitting.
Sophomore Sloane White led the Cougars with 11 kills, while junior Emily Neideffer tallied nine kills and a team-best .375 hitting percentage.
Playing in her final match as a Cougar, senior Emily Shelton tallied 15 digs to finish her career with 2,161 digs, second all-time in school history.
“I am so proud of the way this team came together this season,” head coach Jason Kepner said. “Give Florida credit for making us a little bit one-dimensional today. We did not pass as effectively as we did yesterday and that took us out of rhythm a bit. However, we have a lot to be proud about this season and high expectations for the future.”
Florida was led by Chloe Mann and her 10 kills and four blocks to go with a match-high .615 hitting percentage. Betsy Smith made eight kills and Tangerine Wiggs had seven blocks. Ziva Recek landed four service aces for the Gators.
Both teams traded points through the beginning of the first set with the C of C net defense countering the Gators’ attackers. A kill from Neideffer brought the margin to 16-14, but the Gators proceeded to incrementally widen the lead and go up 22-17 after consecutive blocks from Wiggs and Smith. A kill from Smith and a service ace from Recek gave Florida a 25-20 set victory. White was the bright spot for the Cougars in the set as she tallied six kills and hit .364.
College of Charleston fell behind 10-4 in the second set and could not make up the deficit as UF eventually won the set, 25-16. Florida hit .357 in the second game and had three blocks as the Gators held the Cougars to just .083 hitting. Neideffer led the Cougars with three kills, but the defense could not slow down the Gators’ attack as Charleston only managed 11 digs and no blocks.
The Cougars pulled to within 8-5 in the third set after a kill from Neideffer, but Florida pulled away again, leading 18-10 after a 5-1 run. The Gators hit .435 in the final game, eventually winning 25-14.
College of Charleston finishes one of the program’s best seasons with a record of 27-8. The Cougars extended the program’s streak of conference championships to 12 straight seasons and won the first NCAA tournament match since 2005, knocking off a ranked opponent for the first time ever in No. 23 Miami.
Shelton and senior Kelly Kolich ended their careers with the Cougars with an overall record of 126-44. The duo went to two NCAA tournaments and captured two SoCon tournament titles.