TOWSON, Md., Nov. 16, 2012 – Senior outside hitter Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) set career highs of 26 kills and 30 points to lead the sixth-seeded James Madison volleyball team to a dramatic, come-from-behind, 3-2 win over third-seeded Northeastern in the quarterfinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship in Towson, Md., on Friday evening.
JMU won by set scores of 21-25, 22-25, 25-23, 29-27, 15-7 to improve to 13-15 on the season. It advances to take on second-seeded Delaware in the semifinals at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Towson Center. Northeastern finishes its season with a 20-7 mark.
Erb’s kills came on .383 hitting as she committed just three errors in 60 attempts. She had her sixth consecutive double-double and her team-leading 16th of the season, adding 16 digs, six blocks and a service ace. It was the first time a Dukes player recorded 30 or more points since Allyson Halls (2004-07) had 37.5 against Georgia State on Oct. 26, 2007. Erb also moved into fourth place on the school’s all-time kills list, passing Halls and finishing the day with 1,317.
After losing a pair of tight battles in the first two sets, JMU got back into the match with a win in set three. The set was tightly contested featuring nine tie scores and four lead changes. JMU led 22-20 after a kill from Erb and a combo block by Erb and freshman outside hitter Meghan Niski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East). The Huskies called timeout and came out of the break with a three-point run to grab a 23-22 advantage. Head coach Lauren Steinbrecher called timeout and Madison responded to the strategy session with a 3-0 run of its own to win the set 25-23.
Set four was another tight affair, featuring four more lead changes and 13 tie scores. NU got its first crack at match point, leading 24-23, but an attack error evened the score. JMU fought off three more match points with block and an NU attack error before closing the set on a 3-0 run to force the decisive fifth set.
The Dukes came out firing in set five, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and never letting the Huskies back into the set. JMU won the side out after each of the Huskies seven points in the set and cruised to the 15-7 win. Madison did not commit a hitting error in the fifth set and forced seven by Northeastern, outhitting NU .294 to -.037 in the tiebreaker.
Joining Erb in double-figure kills was redshirt senior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity) with 18 and sophomore middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) with 10. Abel had a double-double with 10 digs, while Briones contributed three blocks and a dig. Junior libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) had a team-best 25 digs, while senior Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) and freshman Sarah Patterson (Roanoke, Va./Hidden Valley) combined for 56 assists, 10 digs, two kills, two aces and a block from the setter position.
Outside hitter Hanna Gibeau paced Northeastern with 22 kills on .304 hitting while CAA Player of the Year Kelly Bacon contributed 20 kills and 18 digs. Libero Natalia Skiba led all players with 30 digs, while setter/outside hitter Jillian Briner contributed 31 assists, 26 digs and six kills. Middle Blocker Nicole Bishop led the team with four blocks and added seven kills.
The Dukes outhit the Huskies .201 to .184 and held a slim 4-3 advantage in service aces. Both teams collected nine blocks for the match, while NU led in digs 98-87.
The CAA Championship continues on Saturday with JMU’s 4 p.m. match against No. 2 Delaware. Top-seeded Towson faces the winner of Friday night’s match between No. 4 Hofstra and No. 5 William & Mary at 7 p.m. Sunday’s title game is set for a 5 p.m. start.
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