RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Felician University temporarily delayed defeat but ultimately could not prevent visiting Caldwell University from earning a 3-1 (25-20, 29-27, 23-25, 25-16) Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference women's volleyball victory on Wednesday night at Job Gymnasium.
While both teams have already qualified for next week's CACC Championship tournament, Wednesday's result means that Saturday, the final day of regular-season conference play, will determine seeding. Felician (14-17, 12-6 CACC) owns a one-game lead over both Caldwell (13-17, 11-7) and Bloomfield College (15-11, 11-7) in the CACC North Division, and would win the division outright with a victory over the Jefferson Rams on Saturday in Philadelphia.
The Cougars have a combined 3-1 record against the Bears and Golden Falcons. Caldwell would grab the North's top seed with a win (at home against Wilmington (Del.) University) and a Felician loss on Saturday.
Sophomore outside hitter Maddie Sloan (Caldwell, N.J./James Caldwell) led Felician with 17 kills on Wednesday. Junior middle blocker Katie Asbery (Mililani, Hawaii/Mililani) totaled 12 kills and three blocks. Sophomore outside Elise Smith (O'Fallon, Ill./O'Fallon) turned in a match-high 18 kills and 13 digs for Caldwell.
The Cougars held Felician to a team attack percentage of .103. Caldwell also possessed a 12-7 edge in blocking.
After Caldwell hit .393 to pull away for the Set 1 victory, the tenor of the match turned on the second-set result. The Golden Falcons were ahead for much of the set, leading by as large a margin as 21-16.
In the late stages, the hosts still owned a 23-20 edge. But the Cougars claimed the next three rallies and went on to save a pair of set point as the teams worked overtime. Trailing 27-26, Caldwell received kills from Smith and Marina Schlaepfer (Aurora, Colo./Grandview) to move ahead. Smith then came up with an ace for the 2-0 lead in the match.
Set 3 was tied on 14 occasions before Felician eked out a victory to extend the match. The Cougars, however, moved ahead, 9-4, to start the fourth. The Golden Falcons came back to within 9-7 only to see their guests embark upon a 7-0 run and move on to victory.
Caldwell sophomore setter Sophie Hicks (Christchurch, New Zealand/St. Paul's) accumulated 51 assists and three blocks. In addition to Smith, she found Chloe Kissner (Seabrook, Texas/Clear Falls) (.355, 17 kills) and Schlaepfer (14 kills, 15 digs, three blocks) at high rates.
Felician received 41 assists and seven digs from freshman setter Miquela Martinez (Santa Fe, N.M./St. Michael's). Sophomore libero Sierra Gallagher (Honolulu, Hawaii/Kamehameha) totaled 26 digs and four assists.
The Golden Falcons play at Jefferson at 1:30 on Saturday. They will then host either Jefferson or Wilmington on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. in the CACC quarterfinals. More information about the league playoffs will be released early next week.