JMU volleyball left for Hofstra University earlier this week to partake in the 2019 CAA Volleyball Tournament.
The Dukes began with a bye in the quarterfinals, putting them in the semifinals against Delaware. JMU advanced to the title match after defeating the Blue Hens 3-1. In the championship round, JMU took on Towson, which hadn’t lost in CAA play this season and had beaten Elon in the semifinals. The match ended with a 3-0 victory for the Tigers, who claimed the CAA championship.
Against Delaware, JMU was evenly matched in total offensive kills but dominated the statistics in blocks and aces. Senior outside hitter Maria Bellinger for the Blue Hens led the match with 29 kills, 10 digs and three blocks.
With 30 errors throughout the match, Delaware was unable to execute in comeback situations and fell to the Dukes in the first two sets. JMU faltered with errors in the third, which became sets points for Delaware, but the Dukes regained the momentum and won the match.
Senior middle blocker M’Kaela White held the highest offensive production for JMU, which totaled to 15 kills and nine blocks. Freshman outside hitter Danielle Nathan followed suit by recording 13 kills and five blocks. The Dukes won the match with final set scores of 25-16, 25-19, 26-24 and 25-15.
"M'Kaela White was incredible — not only her performance, but the energy and leadership she brought was huge,” head coach Lauren Steinbrecher said to JMU Athletics. “Danielle Nathan had another strong performance against Delaware, taking some big-time swings for us, and I thought [senior setter] Sarah Martin ran a great offense."
In the CAA championship, JMU took Towson, which had won the regular-season title. Towson dominated the match, taking advantage of JMU’s net violations and service errors. The match ended 25-23, 25-17 and 25-18.
Towson’s senior middle blocker Olivia Finkel led the championship match in kills with 14 and JMU’s leader was senior middle hitter Briley Brind’Amour, who recorded 11. Martin had a total of 26 assists for the Dukes, finishing her career at a total of 3,118 assists.
Despite JMU’s offensive push in the final match, Towson’s defense remained a tightly working group that made it difficult to score against. This was the third matchup between the two teams; in the two prior, JMU avoided a sweep before Towson won in four sets.
Towson will go on to play in the NCAA Tournament, and the Dukes’ season came to a close as a result of the loss. JMU finished with a record of 20-8 (13-3 CAA).
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