Aiken, S.C. – Twentieth-ranked Wingate registered their first win against a top-15 team Saturday, defeating 15th-ranked Flagler 3-1 on Day 2 of the Aiken Invitational. The contest was a rematch of the last three NCAA Southeast regional title matches. Wingate won by scores of 25-22, 22-25, 26-24 and 25-21 to improve to 8-0 overall.
The Bulldogs have now won a nation’s best 58 consecutive regular season contests, dating back to early in the 2010 season. Wingate is 171-9 overall since the start of the 2007 season, good for a .950 winning percentage which leads all of Division II.
“We have had some great matches with Flagler over the years, and this was another exciting, hard fought battle,” head coach Shelton Collier said. “Our players are well aware of the significance of this win with Flagler being nationally ranked and one of the top teams in our region. They have a bunch of very experienced and talented players, so it was a great win for us.”
Outside hitter Shelly Stumpff piled up a career high 20 kills along with 13 digs to lead the Wingate attack. Right-side hitter Anna Hilton added 15 kills, six digs, four assists and three blocks, hitting .400 for the match. Outside hitter Cory McGowan had nine kills and 16 digs, while middle blocker Grace Krauser had eight kills and three blocks. Setter Alison Cooke had a huge match, piling up career highs of 30 assists and 28 digs, while Iris Brewer contributed 20 assists and 15 digs.
Abby Meyers had 12 kills, seven digs and three blocks to lead the Flagler attack. Dianna Craine had 11 kills and 19 digs on the afternoon, while Emilee Taylor added 10 kills. Amelia Morgan registered 35 assists and 12 digs, while Casey Gnann piled up a match-high 33 digs.
A block from Potter and middle blocker Allison Rickher followed by a Hilton kill put Wingate on top 9-3 in the opening set. Flagler battled back, cutting the lead to one when three consecutive Wingate errors made it 14-13. Kills from Hilton and Stumpff pushed the advantage back to three at 17-14. The Saints responded, using a 4-0 run to take a 20-18 advantage on a kill from Rachel Stacy. Kills from Hilton and Stumpff tied it at 20, while a Flagler error put Wingate back on top by one. The Bulldogs piled up 19 kills in the first set.
Wingate came out on fire in the second set, taking a 12-4 lead on back-to-back Stumpff kills. Flagler would not go away, cutting the lead to two at 14-12 on a Stacy block and Meyers kill. Wingate pushed the advantage back to four when a McGowan kill made it 21-17. Flagler had the emphatic answer, going on a 7-0 run to take a 24-21 lead. Sophie Meyer started it with a kill, while a block from Meyers and Morgan gave the Saints set point. Craine capped the second set with a kill.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early 7-4 lead in the third set on a kill from Stumpff. Flagler took an 11-10 lead on a kill from Meyer. Flagler regained the lead on a Craine block and Wingate error. Stumpff answered with a kill to tie it at 22, while McGowan gave the ‘Dogs a one-point lead. Wingate led 24-23 on a Flagler error, but Taylor tied it at 24 with a kill. An error from the Saints put Wingate back on top.
A Rickher kill and Flagler error put Wingate on top 10-6 in the fourth set. Flagler tied it at 10 on a Wingate error, then took an 11-10 lead on a Stacy kill. The Bulldogs scored the next five points to go on top 16-11. Hilton had two kills in the flurry, while Krauser added a kill and a block. Kills from Potter and Rickher gave Wingate a 19-14 advantage. Flagler would not go away, cutting the lead to three at 21-18 on a kill from Craine. A Hilton kill and Flagler error made it 23-18. Hilton’s kill made it 24-19, while another kill from Hilton capped the match.
Wingate hit .155 for the match, with 63 kills and 30 errors in 213 attacks. Flagler had 46 kills and 28 errors in 186 attacks, hitting .097. Rickher led the way with six blocks, while Krauser had a team-best two solo blocks.