FOLEY, ALA. – Anett Nemeth saved her best match of the season to date until the postseason as she led No. 12 Coastal Carolina to a 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 25-13) victory in pool play in the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Volleyball Championship tournament in Foley, Ala. The Chanticleers, who remain undefeated at 17-0, advance to the semifinal round and will face Little Rock on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 5 p.m. ET.
Nemeth, the defending Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, recorded a season-high 23 kills on just 37 swings and posted a .486 hitting percentage.
In the opening set, Appalachian State (1-13, 1-12 SBC) broke open a 6-6 tie by scoring seven unanswered points to open a 13-6 advantage. During the run, the Chants committed four attack errors while App State’s Sophie Cain served a pair of aces. The Mountaineers maintained a 16-10 lead until Coastal grabbed a 17-16 lead by scoring seven unanswered points of its own. After trading points, App State scored three quick points on a service error and two attack errors by the Chants to take a 23-19 lead. The Chanticleers responded by scoring the final six points of the first set to take a 25-23 victory despite a hitting percentage of just .057.
In the second set, the Chanticleers turned around their fortune in the attack and connected for a team hitting percentage of .400. With the set tied at 11-11, Coastal scored six-straight points led by a pair of kills from Nemeth and one kill each by Madison Lowery and Jelena Prolic to open a 17-11 cushion. The teams traded points but the Chants scored four of the final five points of the set to take a 25-18 win.
The Chanticleers appeared ready to walk away with a three-set sweep by jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the third set and forcing an early App State timeout. The set opened with Coastal’s Brigitta Petrenko recording her 100th career service ace to become just the seventh Chanticleer in history to pass the 100-ace mark.
Following the timeout, the Mountaineers quickly closed the gap and ultimately tied the set at 8-8 on an attack error by Nemeth. The match remained close with neither team building more than a two-point lead before a late 6-0 run by App State broke a tie and gave the Mountaineers a 24-20 lead. The Chants fought off three match-points on a kill by Nemeth, a service ace by Petrenko, and an error by App State but Grace Morrison connected on a kill to end the set 25-23 for App State to keep the Mountaineers alive.
The teams battled early in the fourth set before the Chants were able to take a 14-7 lead with a 4-0 run spurred by kills by Ani Bozdeva and Petrenko. Coastal went on to score eight of the last 10 points of the set to take the 25-13 win in the fourth set and advance in the tournament.
In addition to her offensive play at the net, Nemeth recorded two service aces, two blocks, and 13 digs. Bozdeva added seven kills as the Chanticleers had a balanced offensive attack behind Nemeth with 10 total players recording at least one kill. Petrenko, a sophomore setter, dished out 35 assists and had four kills on five attacks. Libero Lina Perugini was stellar in defense with 21 digs while Ilse Sinnige led Coastal Carolina with three blocks.
Appalachian State, which lost to the Chants for the fifth time this season, was led by Lexi Kohut with nine kills. The Mountaineers’ offensive attack was held to just a .058 hitting percentage and forced into 27 attack errors by the Chants play at the net. Cain posted 19 set assists while Emma Reilly had 17 digs and three service aces. The lone bright spot for the Mountaineers statistically was there 11 service aces.
Coastal Carolina (17-0, 16-0 SBC) will face Little Rock (6-13, 4-12 SBC), the No. 5 seed out of the West Division. Little Rock scored a 3-1 upset victory over Louisiana, the No. 2 seed out of the West, and then had a 3-1 win over the East Division’s No. 3 seed Georgia State. The two teams will play the first semifinal match on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET and the match will be broadcast on ESPN+.