Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina falls in first round, ending an NCAA record-setting career

Coastal Carolina senior hitter Leah Hardeman had a match-high 25 kills but the Chanticleers lost 3-1 to Creighton in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship in Omaha, Neb.
Coastal Carolina senior hitter Leah Hardeman had a match-high 25 kills but the Chanticleers lost 3-1 to Creighton in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship in Omaha, Neb. file photo

Coastal Carolina fell 3-1 to ninth-seeded Creighton in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship on Friday night, ending the NCAA record-setting career of senior hitter Leah Hardeman.

The match was played in front of 2,517 spectators, the second-largest crowd in Creighton’s D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha, Neb.

Hardeman ended her career as the Chanticleers’ all-time kills leader, and she is also the first student-athlete in NCAA Division I women’s volleyball history to be a four-time conference player of the year. She was the Big South Conference POY as a freshman and sophomore and the Sun Belt Conference POY as a junior and senior.

Hardeman is also a two-time AVCA All-Region selection, and ranks among the top-10 leaders in CCU history in nine statistical categories. She led Friday’s match with 25 kills to become Coastal’s all-time leader with 1,811. Entering the match, Hardeman needed 22 kills to surpass previous record holder Chelsy Kimes.

The four-set loss came by the scores of 20-25, 25-27, 25-20 and 22-25.

Hardeman had a .490 hitting percentage, three aces and 14 digs to complete her 18th double-double of the season. She was the only Chanticleer to finish with double-digit kills.

Coastal ended its season 20-8 overall for its fourth consecutive 20-plus win season. Creighton (26-6) advances to play Michigan State in Saturday’s second round match.

Creighton held slight advantages in kills (52-48), hitting percentage (.209 -.184) and digs (58-48), and each side tallied 10 blocks.

A streak of five unanswered points by Creighton during the first set allowed the Bluejays to take the lead. CCU had an opportunity to even the match in the second set as it forced Creighton to use both timeouts before taking a 24-21 lead. Two Coastal errors and a kill by Winters tied the set, and the Bluejays finished off the set with another CCU error and Winters kill.

Coastal won the third set with a .294 percentage to Creighton’s .100. Hardeman put down seven kills for the second straight set, and Sydney Alvis provided six digs defensively. The Chants won six early points on Hardeman’s serve, and the senior accounted for four of the points on three aces and a kill. That stretch gave the Chants a 14-8 lead.

The fourth was tied 20-20 before Creighton claimed the next three points on a kill and two Coastal errors. The Chants won the following two points to trim the Bluejays lead to one, but another Winters’ kill and CCU error put an end to the match.

Sara Boothe paced the Chants with 20 assists, Kate Federico had 18 assists and Dora Lulic had a team-high six blocks.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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