Nov. 23, 2009

Courtesy of Flagler Athletics

WINGATE, N.C. − Meg Weathersby (Maitland, Fla./Orangewood Christian) recorded 18 kills, hit .273 and added nine digs to help lead Flagler College to a 3-1 (27-25, 18-25, 25-19, 25-14) win over 24th-ranked Wingate University and claim the 2009 NCAA Division II Southeast Region title Sunday night at Cuddy Arena.

Flagler (35-8) advances to the Elite Eight in St. Paul, Minn., and will face East Region champion Dowling College (29-6) from Oakdale, N.Y., Dec. 3 at noon Central. The Saints also extend their winning streak to 28 matches. This is the first national tournament appearance for the Flagler volleyball program.

Justine Burkhardt (St. Augustine, Fla./Winthrop U.) recorded her 16th double-double of the season with 14 kills to go along with a career-high 26 digs and four total blocks. Rachel Stacy (Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek HS) added 12 kills and hit .348 for the match and also added five total blocks. Katie Beale (Stuart, Fla./Martin County HS) notched her 21st double-double with 10 kills and 22 digs. Jillian Unitas (Baldwin, Md./St. Paul's School for Girls) collected a season-high 20 digs for the Saints. Olivia Snipes (Easley, S.C./Easley HS) recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 24 assists and 17 digs. Rebecca Royal (Green Cove Springs, Fla./Fleming Island HS) tallied 24 assists.

Beale, Burkhardt and Weathersby were all selected to the All-Southeast Region Tournament Team. Other members on the all-tournament team were: Stormi Gale, Grace Krauser and Maggie Malone of Wingate; Casey Howett and Kristin Standhardinger of Armstrong Atlantic; Carly Mozgai and Jessica Schachleiter of Carson-Newman College; Kaitlyn Whitmer of Catawba College; and, Katie-Marie Legg of Lees-McRae College.

Stormi Gale led Wingate (36-2) with 16 kills and 13 digs while Jacki Emmenecker added 11 kills. Maggie Malone paced the defense with 26 digs and Liz Willis tallied 33 assists.

The Bulldogs had their 24-match win streak snapped as well as its 16-match home winning streak. The last loss for Wingate at home was to Catawba College in the semifinal round of last year's Southeast Region Tournament on Nov. 22.

The Saints trailed late in the first set 18-14, but went on a 7-2 run to take a 21-20 lead. The Bulldogs fought off two set points, but a pair of kills by Stacy and Burkhardt wrapped up the set 27-25. Flagler hit a red-hot .439 in the set with 20 kills and only two errors on 41 swings.

In the second set, both teams cooled off from the first set, but the Bulldogs rallied from a 10-7 deficit and went on a 13-3 run en route to a 25-18 win. Seven attack errors by the Saints contributed to the run.

In the third set, Flagler and Wingate were knotted at 7-7 when the Saints rattled off five straight points to force a Bulldog timeout. Flagler would lead by as many as seven (18-11) and roll to a 25-19 win.

In the fourth set, the Saints broke an 8-8 tie with seven straight points with the help of three attack errors and kills from Royal and Casey Gnann (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River HS). Flagler ran away with a 25-14 set to win the match.