CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern battled crosstown foe The Citadel in a back-and-forth match before seizing momentum in the decisive fifth set for a 3-2 win Friday evening from TD Arena at the College of Charleston Invitational by 25-18, 15-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-11 set scores.
CSU (5-1) continued their hot start to the season as the Bucs collected their fourth-straight win to begin the weekend while The Citadel (4-4) dropped back to the .500 mark after winning their previous two matches.
Redshirt-freshman Madison Malloch continued her torrid pace as she set collected a career-best 24 kills in the win Friday, doubling her previous high. The 24-kill performance from Malloch was the first time since a Buccaneer reached the 20-kill mark since Brooke Monssen collected 20 against Savannah State on Sept. 16, 2016. Entering the match as the Big South leader in hitting percentage, Malloch finished the evening with a .478 clip.
Hannah Western set a new season-high with her 18 digs while Rachel Smith gathered 17 and Madison Martin added 14. Friday marked the first double-digit performance from Smith while Martin extended her streak to five-straight reaching 10-plus digs. Overall, the Bucs collected a season-high 80 digs
Junior setter Naiomi Rivera added a season-best 50 assists in the Bucs' win, besting her previous high of 33 against Western Carolina.
The Citadel came out fast with a 7-3 lead in the opening set before Mallcoh's four kills and Rodriguez's 11 assists paced the Buccaneer comeback to take set one. The Bulldogs responded with a second-set win behind Sharlissa de Jesus' four kills and Megan Fuhr's 11 assist.
After trading the third and fourth set with momentum swings left and right, it was the Bucs who claimed the surge needed to close out the match with six of the final eight points for their first five-set win of the season in as many tries.
In the final set, Malloch had five kills and a team-best .571 hitting percentage while Rivera added eight assists and a team-best two digs.
"I'm glad that the girls were able to be aggressive and finish the match strong. I told the girls to leave it all out on the court and 'let's go.'" – Head coach Christy Mooberry on her message to the team heading into the fifth set.
"After the fourth set, both Madison (Malloch) and Caitlyn (Michalski) were both hitting above .400, so anytime we could get the ball to Cate and Madison, we took advantage of it. I started Madison in that rotation from the beginning at left front so we could utilize her a lot in such a short set." –Mooberry on Malloch's record-setting night.
Inside the Numbers
- As a whole, CSU had 80 digs Friday setting a new season-best after 76 in a win over Savannah State on August, 28.
- The Bucs had a hitting percentage of at least .300 in three of the five sets, each set ending in a CSU win. Charleston Southern closed the match strong with a .412 mark to secure the 3-2 thriller in their first five-set match of the season.
- The CSU defense came out strong as they held the Bulldogs below .300 hitting in the first three sets including a .075 mark over the opening set.
News and Notes
- Madison Malloch made it five-straight matches with 10-plus kills as the redshirt-freshman doubled her career-best mark with 24 Friday evening. Malloch entered Friday's match leading the Big South in hitting percentage and added to that mark with her .478 performance.
- Malloch's 24 kills made her the first Buccaneer with 20-plus since Brooke Monssen had 20 against Savannah State on Sept. 16, 2016.
- Hannah Western collected a season-best 18 digs to lead the Bucs while Rachel Smith collected 10-plus digs (17) for the first time in 2018 and Madison Martin added 14 to extend her streak of double-digit performances to five-straight.
- Naiomi Rivera's 50 assists led the Bucs as the team had 56 total, both coming as season-high marks.
Player of the Game
Charleston Southern takes on Davidson in their first match Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. before taking on crosstown foe and host College of Charleston in the nightcap at 7 p.m. from TD Arena.