WEST HAVEN, Conn. – The University of New Haven women’s volleyball team won its third Northeast-10 Conference Championship, taking a 3-1 decision from Adelphi on Saturday at Charger Gymnasium. Keidy Candelaria (Vega Baja, Puerto Rico/Bayamon Military Academy) was named the Championship’s Most Outstanding Player for the victorious Chargers.
The victory was the 24th-straight win for New Haven, which improves upon the best record in Division II to 27-1. The Chargers were the top seed in the championship after completing their fifth-consecutive unbeaten NE-10 season at 15-0. Second-seeded Adelphi – 13-2 in the conference regular season – moves to 24-11 overall with the loss.
Candelaria, who was also named Northeast-10 Player of the Year for the second-consecutive season earlier this week, had 11 kills and 13 digs in tonight’s match and led all players with 4.15 kills per set in the eight-team Championship en route to Most Outstanding Player laurels. She was joined on the All-Championship squad by Amber Cannady (Yonkers, N.Y./Charles E. Gorton), who averaged 2.85 kills per set while hitting .265 in the postseason – the best hitting percentage by any student-athlete to have advanced to the Northeast-10 “Final Four”. Cannady had 11 kills and six blocks against Adelphi.
Northeast-10 Rookie of the Year Kristen Lee (Colorado Springs, Colo./Liberty) posted a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs against the Panthers as she, Candelaria and Cannady shared the team-high. Kristy Atufunwa (Denver, Colo./Denver East) added eight kills, Hayley Wilson (Denver, Colo./Overland) notched three and Ashley Dalton (Helena, Mont./Capital / Northern Arizona) had one finisher.
Running the offense was NE-10 Setter of the Year Kaulana Ane (Paia, Hawaii/Kamehameha), who doled out 39 assists and completed the double-double with 14 digs. She added six kills of her own for a Chargers’ squad that hit .169 (51-24-160) in the match.
Defensively, Kea-Marie Olaso (Kailua, Hawai’i/Le Jardin Academy) led all players with 30 digs, rounded out her conference-best showing of 6.15 digs per set in the Championship. Bai Zhang (China/Shan Dong Zi Bo No. 10 / China Shan Dong Normal University) added 13 digs for New Haven. At the net, Cannady’s six blocks were a part of an 11-rejection performance by the Chargers. The New Haven defense held Adelphi to a .117 (48-28-171) hitting percentage.
The Panthers were led by First Team All-NE-10 and All-Championship honoree Chelsea Overholt, who had a double-double with a pair of team-highs: 14 kills and 22 digs. Katie Bryson distributed a match-high 43 assists for Adelphi.
The Chargers started the match on a 4-0 run before Adelphi fought back to knot the first set at 6-6. A five-point spurt followed – including a Candelaria ace – as New Haven reopened a lead at 11-6, but the Panthers soon tied the contest again at 18-18. The Chargers would not be overtaken, however, as New Haven finished off set one with a 5-0 run that featured back-to-back Cannady kills to take a 25-20 decision.
Once again, New Haven made the first run in the second set, a seven-point outburst that led to a 9-4 advantage. This time, the Panthers had no answer as the Chargers led nearly wire-to-wire en route to a 25-19 triumph.
With their backs against the wall, the Panthers erased the Chargers early 5-0 run in set three. Adelphi put together an eight-point stretch of its own in the middle of the frame, building a five-point cushion at 14-9. New Haven trimmed the lead to within three on several occasions but drew no closer as the Panthers kept the match alive, pulling away to a 25-18 win.
Set four was the lone set without an extended run, but the Chargers continued to rattle off two- and three-point stretches, while Adelphi was limited mostly to single points. Slowly, New Haven constructed a lead that grew as large as 10 points 24-14. The Panthers did not go quietly, fighting off four match points before a kill from Cannady clinched the 2012 Northeast-10 crown for the Chargers.
New Haven previously won the Northeast-10 Championship in 2008 and 2010 and has earned the regular-season title in all five of its seasons as a member of the NE-10 (2008-2012).
The Chargers, who entered the week as the No. 1 seed in the East region, will likely host the NCAA East Region Championship on Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Full details will be available on NewHavenChargers.com following the NCAA Selection Show tomorrow at 10 p.m.