|Captains Sweep Carthage for First NCAA National Championship Berth, 3-0|
|Written by media relations|
|Saturday, 19 November 2011 19:10|
FINAL FOUR WIN! Captains Headed to First Ever National Championship Game With a 3-0 Sweep of #9 Carthage
CNU dominates third set for national championship berth
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- CNU is headed to the NCAA National Championship! The sixth-ranked Captains swept the ninth-ranked Carthage Lady Reds, 3-0, to earn the team's first ever trip to the championship. The Captains improved to 38-4, dropping Carthage to 34-7 after a 25-14, 25-22, 25-11 win. CNU had a stellar match defensively, holding one of the nation's top ten teams to a negative hitting percentage for the match, at -.023.
CNU had 12 blocks in the match, led by junior Bailey Jensen with two solo and four assisted. Junior Christie Fellows added five assisted and seniors Jessie Heavenrich and Chelsea McClure each had three apiece. Defensive specialist Abby Hogge had 21 of the Captains 63 digs in the match.
"We played unbelievable defense tonight against a great offensive team," said head coach Lindsay Birch. "Carthage is as legit a team as we played all season and I'm proud of the way we neutralized their attack. I'm incredibly proud of all 16 players and our coaching staff for tonight's performance -- but we have one game left before we celebrate."
Christopher Newport will now advance to play in Sunday's national championship game, set for 5:00 pm (CST)/6:00 pm (EST). The Captains are looking to earn the school's first national championship outside of Track & Field.
CNU took an early 9-5 lead in the first set led by junior Cory Harris, forcing a Lady Reds timeout. Harris had a pair of kills in the early run. Carthage answered to pull back into a tie at 14 points apiece; an attack error put CNU up 15-14 in the first media timeout.
After the media, the Captains substituted freshman Brooke Moore back to serve, and she would be on the back line for the rest of the set. CNU ran off 11 straight points to win the first set, 25-14, as the Captains dominated the second half of the first. A pair of assisted blocks by Jensen and Heavenrich punctuated the run and match point came as Jensen slammed a hard shot down the left side for the win, 25-14.
CNU hit .233 in the first, holding the Lady Reds to a negative-.047 hitting.
Jensen continued her solid defense early in the second set as CNU took an 8-2 lead on a pair of back-to-back blocks by Jensen, followed by a kill from the junior middle. CNU led by as many as seven, 13-6, but Carthage powered all the way back with eight of the next nine points to tie the set at 14 for the second straight set. Another kill from Harris gave CNU the lead at the media timeout, 15-14.
Carthage took its first lead of the set at 18-17 on an attack error by CNU but junior Christie Fellows answered for the Captains with a long kill from the right side. Another block by Jensen and Heavenrich put CNU back on top, 19-18.
With the score tied at 20-20, the two teams battled in an extremely long rally with several amazing defensive plays to keep the play going and Carthage won the point on a kill by Cindy Cavanagh. The contentious battle continued as the teams traded points until a block from Fellows and McClure put CNU up 23-22. An ace from Heavenrich set up game point and fittingly, another block from Jensen gave CNU the second set win, 25-22, in the dramatic battle.
Carthage came into the third set with the memory on the same floor from a week ago, when they upset host Washington University by coming all the way back from a two-set deficit to win, 3-2. The Captains denied any déjà vu though, dominating the third set from wire-to-wire. The Captains put away the Lady Reds this time, winning the third set 25-11.
Senior Chelsea McClure finished out the match for the second straight day with a kill to send CNU to the national championship. Her classmate Jessie Heavenrich led the way offensively, setting up 27 kills on the day, while adding five digs and one kill. Harris had a match-high 10 kills and hit .323 for CNU, while Hogge had an impressive day with 21 digs.
Carthage was led by Michelle Madeja with 10 kills. Drewann Pancratz had 17 assists and Izzy Shaindlin had 18 digs for the Lady Reds.