ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – No.2-ranked Valdosta State is returning to the national championship match as it edged 10th-ranked Columbus State 5-3 on Friday morning in the NCAA Division II Tennis Championship semifinals at Sanlando Park.

The Blazers will be facing a familiar opponent as they will challenge the No.5-ranked Barry Buccaneers. The Bucs and Blazers met in last season’s national title contest with Barry edging Valdosta 5-4.

Facing an unusual position, Valdosta fell in two of three doubles matches before storming back to win four on the singles side.

The doubles session belonged to the Cougars as they jumped out to an early 2-1 lead against the 2010 national runner-ups. The No.3 tandem of Andre Mordhorst and Pasqual Duttlinger breezed past the Blazers’ pair of Berney Wallner and Konstantine Kutschenko 8-1.

Momentarily tying the match, the No.12 pair of Philip Pakerbusch and Luis Loeffler held serve and overpowered the Columbus State team of Filip Cojbasic and Martin Shishkov 8-6. The No.4-ranked pairing of Christophe Noblet and Gordan Divljak then upset the No. 2 pair of Daniel Dueren and Christian Hansen at top flight doubles 8-6.

The doubles momentum did not carry over into singles as the Blazers rallied to win four of five matches and advance to the title match. 

Valdosta tied the match at two apiece when No.19 Dueren breezed past Divijak in straight sets 6-1, 6-3, at the No. 2 flight singles. Konstantine Kutschenko followed with a 6-3, 6-3 win to briefly give the Bucs a 3-2 lead at the No.5 spot. The Cougars pulled even one more time at No. 6 when Hendrik Paetzel downed Otto Lenhart 6-2, 7-5.

The Blazers remained strong, eventually prevailing in the waning matches. No. 3 Pakebusch collected a 6-2, 6-4 victory at top flight singles while Hansen, with Columbus beginning to mount a second comeback, nipped Duttlinger in a three-set, come-from-behind thriller 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1.