Eckerd eliminates Rollins to advance
Fraser hands knockout blow as Tritons knock off rival Spartans
TAMPA – If recent history was any indication of the kind of second-round clash that was in store at the NCAA South Regional match between Eckerd and Rollins, it was safe to assume it would go down to the wire.
History didn't disappoint.
With a pair of five-set marathon matches between the programs already archived from respective regular-season meetings this year, the second-seeded Tritons rose to the occasion and delivered another winning ending by taking down No. 3-seeded Rollins 3-2 (25-16, 19-25, 27-25, 23-25, 15-13).
The Tritons pushed their way through four ties in the in a back-and-forth final set before Olivia Fraser registered the final knockout blow.
In the process, Eckerd (27-4) punched its first ticket to the South Regional final.
“It was a case of two great teams battling it out tonight,” coach Courtney Draper said. “Rollins made us work for everything. We used all our subs, all our timeouts, but I'm just so proud of this group right now.
“Our seniors had this in their minds from the moment they got here. We're one step closer to reaching another one of our team goals.”
Lindsay Biggs crushed a career-high 21 kills versus just three errors, Ariana Chinn added a dozen more and Ali McAlvany and Olivia Fraser each finished with 10. Hallie Ward had 33 digs in a match that featured a number of sustained volleys that were as good as it gets.
The Tritons' offense hit .359 in the first and Eckerd's defense snuffed out some powerful attacks by Camille Indest and Megan Hodges while the Tritons' outside hitters imposed their will on Rollins' front line.
But Rollins' top gun, Hodges, came alive in the second set with a four kills and an ace as the Tars grabbed early momentum and held on.
The Tritons fell into a quick 0-5 hole in the third set following an ace, ball-handling error and block, but quickly worked to get back within striking distance. Rollins served up an error to break a 25-25 tie and McAlvany and Fraser sealed the third frame with an assisted block to grab an important 2-1 advantage.
The Tars staved off defeat by riding seven of Kelly Merideth's team-leading 16 kills in the fourth set. Rollins' defense came through with clutch back-to-back blocks to snap a 23-23 tie and force a final frame.
Eckerd trailed 8-10 in the fifth frame but back-to-back kills from Biggs knotted things back up. Another Biggs kill made it 14-11 before Hodges had back-to-back kills that closed the gap to one point.