THREE-PEAT! CNU Wins Third Straight Regional Championship With 3-0 Sweep of #3 Emory
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The sixth-ranked Christopher Newport University Captains (36-4) swept the third-ranked Emory University Eagles, 3-0, to advance to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Missouri next weekend. CNU won 25-21, 25-19, 25-23.
Junior Bailey Jensen was named the Regional Tournament Most Outstanding Player, while teammates Jessie Heavenrich and Abby Hogge were also named to the All-Tournament Team. It was the first win over Emory in program history in eleven total matchups. The win avenges a loss in last season's Elite Eight against the Eagles. The Captains will advance to play SUNY Cortland in Friday's Elite Eight.
Emory raced out to a quick start, winning three of their first four points on service aces and pulling ahead by as many as five at 6-1 and again at 9-4, on a kill by 2010 National Player of the Year Amelia McCall. The Captains charged back, though, with solid defense and timely hitting, going on a 12-7 run to tie it up at 16. Junior Christie Fellows slammed a nice cross-court ball that just stayed in bounds for the tying point.
The run continued all the way to 16-7 as CNU's fifth block of the first set gave the Captains their first lead of the match. It was followed by an ace by junior Cory Harris, a kill by rookie Jessie Kolden and a solo block from senior Chelsea McClure, giving CNU their biggest lead of the set, 20-16. The Eagles stalled the run with back-to-back points to pull back within two, 20-18, but McClure knocked home another hard kill and followed it up with an untouched ace to give CNU the four-point lead back.
After the two teams exchanged points, CNU was set up for game point after an attack error by Emory. Back to serve was freshman Brooke Moore and Emory was unable to return, sealing the first set for CNU, 25-21.
The battle in the second set was close from the start as the Captains controlled early. CNU either led or was tied until Emory went up 12-11, and then extended to 17-14 on three straight kills from McCall. CNU scored three straight, capped by a attack error from Breanah Bourque, to tie it back up at 17. After trading points to get to a 19-all tie, Jensen gave the Captains back the lead with her seventh kill of the match.
With Kara Elder serving, Emory made back-to-back errors followed by a kill by Jensen to take a 23-19 lead. Another error set up game point for the Captains. USA South Player of the Year Jessie Heavenrich punctuated the late rally with a hard cross-court shot from the right side to win the set, 25-19, and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third-ranked Eagles responded early in the third set, taking a quick 3-0 lead on a pair of kills by Bourque. McCall gave Emory a 6-3 lead on her match-high 13th kill, but CNU then ran off six of the next seven points to go up 9-7, capped by an ace from Elder. After a timeout, Emory was able to tie things back up at 10 on a pair of kills by Jessica McAlvany.
CNU went up 13-10, answered by the Eagles as they tied at 14 on a long kill by McCall that hit the end line. The two teams teetered back and forth for the next several rallies before finding the match knotted at 20 points apiece. Emory re-took the lead for the first time since it was 7-6 when McAlvany put it away, but CNU won three of the next four points to pull back ahead, 23-22, just two points away from winning the match.
McClure, one of the Captains two seniors, killed the next rally, but Emory stayed alive with a kill from Elena Ransom. In one of the longest rallies of the match, CNU came away with their third straight Regional Championship on a double hit from Emory, 25-23.
The Captains won their second straight regional at home, sweeping the third-ranked Eagles, 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-23). CNU advances to Washington University (Mo.) for the National Championship round next weekend.