RAMS START, FINISH STRONG, HOLD OFF TOWSON TO EARN CAA SEMIFINAL BID
NEWARK, Del. – Virginia Commonwealth University fans got a little more drama than they bargained for, but still got their desired result, as the Rams held off Towson for a 3-2 (25-12, 25-22, 24-26, 18-25, 15-7) victory in the Colonial Athletic Association Quarterfinals at the Bob Carpenter Building.
Junior Kristin Boyd (Wilmington, N.C.), who provided a match-high 18 kills, sandwiched a pair around a VCU block to spark a 7-1 Rams' burst midway through the fifth set that gave the Black and Gold an insurmountable 12-6 lead. VCU hit .571 in the set on the way to a 15-7 victory.
It was a quick and welcome turnaround for the Rams, who struggled through the fourth set after a nearly flawless start to the match.
VCU led the contest 2-0 and held a 17-13 advantage in the third set before Towson came alive. Behind CAA Player of the Year Katy Buck's nine kills, the Tigers rallied for a 26-24 win in the third.
In the fourth, Towson was sharp, hitting .432 on the way to a relatively comfortable 25-18 victory. Despite taking a 25-12 beating in the first set, the Tigers appeared to have wrestled away momentum from the Rams. Not so, judging from VCU's effort in the decisive fifth, which saw the Rams commit a lone hitting error.
Boyd hit .444 and committed just two hitting errors in 36 attempts for VCU. She also supplied four blocks. Junior Jasmine Waters (Landover, Md.) was a dominant force in the middle with eight blocks, including three solos. The 6-foot-4 middle blocker added 10 kills and hit .455. Senior Jessica Ojukwu (Sao Paulo, Brazil) did not commit a hitting error in 22 attempts and spiked 10 kills. Freshman setter Cecilia Arago (Recife, Brazil) handed out 50 assists and dug eight balls.
The Rams hit .347 on the night, including .476 in the opening set. They recorded 12 hitting errors all night. VCU also out blocked Towson 13.0 to 5.0 and out dug the Tigers 51-48. Towson hit .174 on the evening. Buck, who leads the CAA in kills, finished with 17, but had only four during the first two sets as the Rams built a 2-0 lead.
Friday's win means the Rams will have reached the CAA semifinal round for the fourth consecutive season. VCU has won eight CAA Tournament matches all-time. Seven of them have come during Coach James Finley's seven-year tenure.