SAVANNAH, Ga. - The fourth-seeded Tusculum College Pioneers knocked off the top-seeded and host Armstrong Pirates, 3-1, to advance to the NCAA Division II Southeast Volleyball Region final on Friday night at the Aquatics & Recreation Center in Savannah. Set scores were: 24-26, 25-23, 29-27, 25-20.
A night after capturing their first win in NCAA tournament history, the Pioneers (24-7) will now play for a first-ever berth into the NCAA Elite Eight when they meet fellow South Atlantic Conference foe Wingate at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Armstrong (33-6) sees its season come to a close in the semifinals for the third time in the last four seasons.
Armstrong hit .359 in taking the first set from the Pioneers, but a key swing in the second set saw the Pirates make four straight errors, turning a 23-21 lead into a 25-23 Tusculum second set win.
Tusculum saw the Pirates fight off four set points in a marathon third set, but Danae Stauffer's kill gave the Pioneers the two-point win. Tusculum then used a big service run by Hannah Berling midway through the fourth set, turning a one-point lead into a 15-9 advantage and again the Pirates fought off multiple set points in the end until a kill from Megan Hasse ended the match and sent the Pioneers into the region final.
Hasse led all players in the contest for the Pioneers with 16 kills, hitting .300, while Alyssa Raterman hit .435 with 12 kills and Stauffer finished the match with 11 kills. Ashley Sarmiento had a double-double with 27 assists and 15 digs, while Caitlyn Dean added 24 digs and Kassie