Getting off to a slow start doomed the Wilmington University volleyball team as it fell, 3-1, in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Semifinals to the North Division's top seed Caldwell on Friday afternoon at the Wellness Center on the campus of Georgian Court.
Set scores for the match were 15-25, 13-25, 25-15, and 11-25.
The loss ends the 2014 season for the Wildcats (20-14) while the Cougars (22-10) advance to the CACC Tournament Championship match on Saturday against North Division second seed Post for the conference's automatic qualification into the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament.
The Wildcats accumulated 26 attack errors in the match, 24 of the 26 coming in the three sets the Wildcats dropped. Wilmington hit .356 with 18 kills in the third set to stay alive, putting together a .810 side-out percentage.
The Wildcats continued to battle back early in the first set, tying the match at 3-3 after falling behind 3-0. The team scored four straight to take an 8-7 lead, and three more consecutive points to hold an 11-10 lead. But the Cougars scored four straight and eight of the next 10 points overall to gain control of the set, 18-13. Kaitlin DiGiacinto stopped the run while a Cougar attack error brought the Wildcats to within 18-15, but the Cougars finished off the set with the final seven points, 25-15.
Another run early in the second set forced the Wildcats into a timeout trailing 8-4. Now trailing 9-4, the Wildcats scored three straight to pull within 9-7, but the two-point deficit would be as close as they would come in the second set. Caldwell ran off four straight points to lead 15-8 before another four straight pushed the lead to 21-10. The Cougars scored the final three points of the set to lead the lead, 2-0.
The Wildcats were the ones to throw the first punch in the third set, getting kills from Alex Siolos and Allison Briley, followed by a solo block from Erin Bistany for a 5-2 lead. Back-to-back kills from Angela Collins and Bistany forced the Cougars into their first timeout, trailing 16-10. Back-to-back kills from DiGiacinto forced Caldwell into their second timeout of the set with Wilmington leading 18-12. The timeout didn't slow the Wildcats down however, as they came out and scored the next two points with a block by Collins and Eile Harris, and a Bistany ace. The Wildcats scored the final four points of the set, getting back-to-back kills from Briley and Siolos to force a fourth set, 25-15.
Tied at 4-4 in the fourth set, the Cougars scored four straight points, three of which came on Wilmington attack errors to take an 8-4 lead. Bistany ended the run after the timeout with a kill but then the Cougars started another run of five straight points to take the momentum with a 13-5 lead. The Wildcats scored three of the next four points in the set, receiving kills from Bistany and DiGiacinto to close the gaps to 14-8, but Caldwell responded with four straight and eight of the next nine points of their own to go up 22-9. The Cougars Erica Harrell sent the Cougars into the CACC Championship with a kill on match point, 25-11.
Siolos led the Wildcats with nine kills, 14 assists, 14 digs, two block assists and a solo block while DiGiacinto finished with eight kills and 11 digs. Bistany collected six kills, two block assists, and a solo block. Shelby Henderson finished with a match high 31 digs.
The Wildcats hit .067 for the match while the Cougars hit .215, getting a match high 14 kills from Athena Nestoras.
The Wildcats' Kasey Couch closed out her career with a team high 16 assists in the match, adding eight digs on Friday afternoon. Couch is the program's all-time leader in sets and matched played for her career.
The Wildcats finish out the 2014 season wit a 20-14 overall record, their fifth straight 20+ win season in a row. They also won the CACC South Division for the third year in a row, earning the number two seed in the South Division this year. The Wildcats collected a 15-4 conference record this season.
Following the conclusion of the CACC Tournament on Saturday, the CACC announced its All-Tournament Team and DiGiacinto earned a spot on the roster. In two games, the junior collected a team high 19 kills and 20 digs. She posted 11 kills, nine digs, and three aces in the CACC Quarterfinal match against Dominican.
2014 CACC Volleyball All-Tournament Team
Morgan Griffin, Post (MVP)
Skylar German, Post
Nicole Brown, Post
Athena Nestoras, Caldwell
Jaclyn Del Cid, Caldwell
Kaitlin DiGiacinto, Wilmington
Kelsey Oliver, Georgian Court
Terra Ecker, Philadelphia
Diannmarie Rivera, Bloomfield
McKenzie John, Dominican
Rachel Johnson, Holy Family