Kills by Lauren Chastang and Dani Ballou provided the clinching points, and Kennesaw State outlasted a five-set duel with Florida Gulf Coast to win the ASUN Conference championship Saturday in Fort Myers, Florida.
After winning the first two sets, the Owls (22-8) were within two points of a three-set sweep at 23-22 in the third, but the Eagles (27-5) rallied to win the set 26-24 on a combined block off a Kennesaw State attack error.
In the fourth set, Kennesaw State led 23-21, but it again fell short of clinching the set and the match, with top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast winning 26-24 following a pair of combined blocks to tie the match at two sets apiece.
With the win, the Owls clinched the ASUN's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, reaching this point for the second time in three years. The brackets will be revealed Dec. 1 in an 8:30 p.m. selection show on ESPNU.
In the first set, neither team rarely able to get a significant lead over the other.
The Owls led by as much as three points and had a 24-22 edge on Chastang's kill, but Florida Gulf Coast went on a three-point run to lead 25-24. Now trailing, the Owls rallied to score three points on a pair of blocks and Ballou's kill and clinched the set.
In the second set, Kennesaw State maintained control leading by as much as 16-8 and maintained its lead before winning on Quin Sutphin's kill.
Ballou led Kennesaw State with a match-high 22 kills, with Chastang adding 20 and Sutphin 18. Lexi Broadwater had a commanding 69 assists.
Defensively, the Owls finished with 102 digs, led by Karlee Groover's 28, Shelby Dennis' 24 and Bri Becerra's 18. Broadwater had 13 and Chastang 12 to complete double-doubles for each player.
Cortney VanLiew had 15 kills and 11 digs for Florida Gulf Coast, with Amanda Carroll adding 14 kills and 15 digs. Chelsey Lockey had 49 assists, while Dana Axner led the defensive charge with 30 digs.