Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina wins a Sun Belt title to qualify for another NCAA Tournament

Coastal Carolina’s Leah Hardeman, pictured during the 2017 season, was named the Sun Belt Conference’s 2017-18 Female Athlete of the Year.
Coastal Carolina’s Leah Hardeman, pictured during the 2017 season, was named the Sun Belt Conference’s 2017-18 Female Athlete of the Year. jlee@thesunnews

The Coastal Carolina volleyball team defeated Texas State in four sets Sunday in Jonesboro, Ark., to win its second consecutive Sun Belt Volleyball Championship and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

The Chanticleers completed a sweep of Sun Belt regular season and tournament titles and won its fourth straight conference championship, including a pair of Big South Conference titles before moving to the Sun Belt.

Coastal will enter the NCAA postseason with a 20-7 record for its fourth straight 20-win season and 12th in program history.

The Chanticleers will learn their first-round opponent and match location on Nov. 26 during the NCAA Volleyball Selection Show, which airs at 9 p.m. on ESPNU.

The championship game matched the top two seeds in the conference, as Texas State won the West Division and ended the tournament at 24-9.

The first three sets were all decided by the scores of 25-23, with Coastal winning the first and third games. The Chants finished off the match with a 25-15 victory in the fourth set.

Leah Hardeman, who had 21 kills and 16 digs in the championship match, was named the Sun Belt Championship Most Outstanding Player for the second consecutive year. The senior outside hitter also finished the match with a .354 hitting percentage and three blocks.

Joining Hardeman on the Sun Belt All-Tournament Team were junior defensive specialist Sydney Alvis and freshman outside hitter Kyla Manning.

Manning put down a career-best 19 kills while hitting .286, and tied for second on the team in blocks with four. For the second consecutive match during the tournament, Alvis led all players in digs with 27.

The first three sets featured 23 ties and nine lead changes. Coastal never trailed in the final set, however.

Coastal rode a .378 hitting percentage to victory in the first set, which was tied 22-22 before Coastal won three of the next four points.

After Texas State won the second set to tie the match, Coastal trailed 12-8 in the third set before winning seven straight points to take a 15-12 lead. The Bobcats evened the set seven more times to bring about another 22-22 tie before Coastal won three of the final four points.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

All-Tournament Team

Leah Hardeman – Coastal Carolina (Most Outstanding Player)

Sydney Alvis – Coastal Carolina

Kyla Manning – Coastal Carolina

Micah Dinwiddie – Texas State

Amy Pflughaupt – Texas State

Hali Wisnoskie – Louisiana

Carlisa May – Arkansas State