Volleyball earns first CAA Championship title since 2014
The Hofstra volleyball team became the champion of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) for the first time since 2014 after playing a five-set thriller against James Madison University at the F. Mitchell Johnson Center at the College of Charleston Sunday afternoon, Nov. 18. The match’s MVP, Laura Masciullo, recorded 25 kills including the game-winning point to send Hofstra to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.
James Madison and Hofstra exchanged sets early with the Dukes winning the first 26-24 and the Pride taking the next two 25-20 and 25-11, including a 13-0 run in the tiebreaking third set. James Madison won the fourth stanza to force a sudden death fifth. Behind the serve of Nanishka Perez, the Pride opened the final set with seven straight points, forcing two timeouts from the Dukes. After exchanging numerous points Hofstra found themselves at match-point up 14-10. A kill from Masciullo sealed Hofstra’s fourth CAA Championship and ninth tournament appearance.
“We really wanted this, it was our goal from the beginning. We knew we could do it,” Masciullo said, “For [the whole] game we stayed organized and we played as a team not as individuals. “At the beginning of the game we say there isn’t going to be a leader, there’s going to be a team today.”
Masciullo’s 25 kills were part of an 80-kill offensive onslaught by the Pride, 30 more kills than James Madison. Michela Rucli added 20 kills to join the 1,000 career kills club. Doris Bogoje recorded 12 kills and a team-high three blocks. Luisa Sydlik was an offensive machine with 68 assists, two aces and a pair of blocks. The Hofstra defense was solid with Caylie Denham’s 17 digs, along with Perez and Ivania Ortiz who each had 14.
“It was really nice to see everyone involved,” said head coach Emily Mansur. “Everyone playing as a team, playing together in order to be able to accomplish what we worked all season to do.
Briley Brind’Amour led the way for the Dukes with 15 kills while M’Kaela White posted 12 kills and three blocks. Taylor Gail proved to be a threat to the Pride offense finishing with six blocks.
Hofstra and James Madison entered the tournament as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, after being co-champs of the CAA regular season title both going 13-3 in conference play. The two split the regular season matchups with both teams winning on their home courts.
“At this point anyone can win, it’s two great teams. We have beaten each other… It’s about us playing with everything we have, and we did,” Mansur said, “It was amazing to see and really that’s what it came down to, playing the Hofstra volleyball way.”
James Madison, winners of the last two CAA Championships, saw their season end with a 22-7 record.
The Pride heads into the NCAA Tournament on a nine-match win streak and a 25-7 season mark. The Selection Show airs next Sunday, November 25 at 8:30 p.m.
“We are going to go as hard as we can to get that first win,” Mansur said. “This is a team that’s ready to continue to work and we are not ready to be done yet.”
Photo Courtesy of Hofstra Athletics