NEWARK, Del., Nov. 19, 2011 – Top-seeded Delaware came back from an early two-set deficit to defeat fifth-seeded James Madison, 3-2, in the Colonial Athletic Association Championships semifinals at Barbara Viera Court in Newark, Del., on Saturday night.
JMU lost by set scores of 20-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-11 to drop to 20-11 on the season. Delaware advances to its second consecutive CAA Championship game and its fourth one in the last five years as it improved to 19-12. The Blue Hens will take on sixth-seeded VCU at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The Dukes were led by senior outside hitter Holly Wall (Kaukauna, Wisc./Kaukauna) with 19 kills and 16 digs for eighth double-double of the season. She hit .245 for the match, adding three blocks and two assists. Junior outside hitter and Second Team All-CAA honoree Danielle Erb (Tampa, Fla./Plant) contributed nine kills and a match-high 21 digs while sophomore middle blocker Kelly Maguire (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) had 12 kills on .241 hitting and a match-best six blocks. Redshirt junior outside hitter Natalie Abel (Washington, Pa./Trinity), a First Team All-CAA selection, finished with 13 kills, eight digs, four blocks, two assists and a service ace.
Sophomore libero Katie Daorai (Tampa, Fla./Plant) chipped in 20 digs and her second career kill while freshman middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) hit .429 with eight kills, four blocks, three digs and two aces. Junior Megan Wiechmann (Sunland, Calif./Village Christian) combined with redshirt freshman Kristi Richardson (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) for 56 assists, 10 digs, six kills, three blocks and a service ace from the setter position.
Delaware was led by Third Team All-CAA selection Kim Stewart with 21 kills and 14 digs. First Team All-CAA selection Alissa Alker added 12 kills and 13 digs while CAA Setter of the Year Renee Tomko picked up 55 assists and 18 digs. Katie Hank and Karina Evans added 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Libero Cara Rosehill had a team-high 20 digs.
Delaware out-hit JMU .243 to .238 and held an 88-78 advantage in digs. The Dukes earned 10 points via block to six for Delaware.
The first set was tight early, before JMU used at 4-0 run to grab a 13-8 lead. The Dukes extended their lead to 18-11 with another 4-0 run sandwiched around the media timeout forcing the Blue to take their first timeout. After the break, UD won four of nine of 11 points to get to tie the score at 20 apiece, but Madison responded with a 5-0 run to win the set 25-20. Wall led the Dukes with seven kills while Erb and Daorai combined for 13 digs.
Delaware went on a 6-1 run early in set two to grab an 11-7 lead and forcing Steinbrecher to use her first timeout. The lead hovered between two and five points before JMU used a 5-1 run to tie the score at 22-22. After a ball handling error put UD up by one, the Dukes won the final three points, including a block by Maguire and Abel on set point, to win the set 25-23. Maguire collected six kills on .600 hitting to pace the offense.
JMU grabbed the first significant lead in set three, slowly building a 12-8 lead. A 4-1 run by the Blue Hens cut the lead to 13-12 before Madison responded with a 4-1 run of its own to get the lead back to four. The defending champs came right back however, winning three consecutive points to force a timeout. With the score tied 23-23, UD got a kill by Stewart and a block by Stewart and Chelsea Lawrence to win the set 25-23.
The Dukes came out strong in set four, running out to an 8-3 lead and forcing a timeout by Blue Hen head coach Bonnie Kenny. UD came back to tie the score at 11-11 on the strength of an 8-3 run before eventually taking its first lead at 12-11. The teams traded points for a while before a 4-1 run gave Delaware a 20-17 lead and forced Madison to use both of its timeouts. The Hens went on to win the set 25-21 to force a fifth-set tiebreaker.
After JMU grabbed early leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the first set, UD went on a 3-0 run to grab the lead at 4-2. They stretched the lead out to four at 7-3 and never looked back, winning the set 15-11.
The Dukes finished the season with 20 wins to give it back-to-back 20-plus win seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.
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