By: Courtney Ott, Deputy Sports Editor
Towson Volleyball defeated Delaware 3-0 to earn their fourth straight Colonial Athletic Association Championship. Outside Hitter Victoria Barrett was named the CAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Outside Hitter Nina Cajic and Middle Blocker Aayinde Smith were also given tournament honors, being named to the All-Tournament Team.
“To see the emotions and energy inside SECU again in real-life is something that is really special,” said Head Coach Don Mentil.
Towson completed a three set sweep against the Blue Hens. The Tigers held a .350 hit percentage while Delaware obtained a .233 hit percentage. Towson finished with a total of 49 kills, 39 digs and three blocks.
To start the first set, Towson Setter Katie McCracken completed a service ace. After both teams alternated serves, the Tigers obtained a four-point lead with the help from Barrett who recorded three kills in a row.
Delaware tried to get the offense going and recorded a kill from Setter Lily Rogers, but Towson pulled away with a three-point run making it 12-5.
The Blue Hens started to pick up the pace and had a three-point streak making it 12-8 but Towson kept their gameplay hot by gaining a seven-point lead.
The Tigers continued to keep the offense strong and won the first set 25-15. Barrett led in kills with seven followed by Middle Blocker Irbe Lazada with three. The team finished the first set with 13 kills and a hit percentage of .357. Delaware had eight total kills and a .208 hit percentage as they fell by 10 points in the first set.
The second set started off in the Blue Hens’ favor but the Tigers quickly responded with a kill by Lazada making it 1-1. Towson continued to carry over their strong gameplay from the first set and had a five-point run, making the game 6-2 and forced Delaware to call a timeout.
Both teams went back-and-forth until Delaware started their comeback, cutting the lead down to two and making the score 11-9. Towson took their four-point lead back after kills from Barrett, Lazada and McCracken, who put the game at 14-10.
The Blue Hens started a two-point streak with a Towson service error and another kill by Rogers, but Towson responded with a kill by Cajic that slammed into the back left corner of the court. Towson was sitting comfortably at their six-point lead, 20-14, as Delaware took another timeout.
Delaware was able to cut Towson’s lead down by four, 23-19, when Smith made an attack error that led into a timeout called by Metil. Towson reached their match point when Smith recorded a kill but a service error from Defensive Specialist Rachel Hess restricted the Tigers from putting the set away.
Barrett laid down another kill for Towson, ending the second set 25-21. Barrett led the team in the second set in kills, having 11 and Lazada having 10. Middle Blocker Lydia Wiers and Outside Hitter Fay Bakodimou tied for one block each. Overall in the second set, Towson had 20 kills and Delaware had nine. The Tigers had a hit percentage of .316 and the Blue Hens had a hit percentage of .171.
Starting the third set 1-0, McCracken set up Smith for another kill. To put Towson at 4-2, Barrett had another kill putting the ball in the back center of the court that was unreachable for the Blue Hens’ defense.
A three-point run for Towson caused Delaware’s head coach to call a timeout after Hess recorded a service ace and Barrett getting another kill. After the timeout, Delaware started a hot streak of four-points in a row, tying the set at 6-6. Delaware took their first lead of the game at 7-6 when Barrett had an attack error.
“We have a lot of athletes that have been here before,” said Metil. “The composure that the older group transcends down is very helpful for our squad.”
To tie the set back up, Lazada had a kill but a service error from Setter Trinity Burge put Delaware at a one-point lead. After falling two points, a kill from Cajic put Towson back in the game 10-10.
A kill from Barrett helped Towson recover from a Delaware two-point lead at 13-15 and close after, Lazada responded with another kill to make the set 15-15. The Tigers reclaimed their lead at 17-15 with two errors from the opposing team.
Delaware had a counter attack of a three-point streak putting the set at 18-17 but Towson tied it back up with a Barrett kill. With both teams tied at 20-20, a kill by Wiers put the Tigers at a one-point lead.
The Tigers were at 23-20 after kills from Cajic and Bakodimou, and the Blue Hens called a timeout to try and start a comeback. To put Towson at 24-21, Bakodimou had another kill and Delaware had a service error. The third set finished at 25-22 when Delaware had a ball handling error giving the Tigers the CAA Championship title.
“Our athletes deserve that fourth championship because we have worked hard all year long and have gone through some adversities as well,” stated Metil.
Towson finds out who they play next Sunday, Nov. 26 during the NCAA Selection Sunday.