SAVANNAH, GA – Freshman Anilu Barraza Araiza earned the clinching win at No.6 singles as 25th-ranked and fifth-seeded Francis Marion University upset 16-ranked and fourth-seeded Georgia College 5-1, Sunday afternoon (May 8) in the semifinal round of the NCAA Division II Women’s Tennis Southeast Regional #2 in Savannah, Ga.
Francis Marion ups its record to 20-6, a nine-win improvement over last season, and advances to the regional title match for the eighth time in the past 10 seasons. FMU will face third-ranked, top-seeded, and defending national champion Armstrong State University (27-1) on Monday morning (May 9) at 10 a.m. at Savannah’s Bacon Park. The Pirates defeated Erskine College 5-0 in Sunday’s other semifinal contest.
The regional champion will advance to the Sweet 16 National Championships, which is part of the 2016 NCAA Division II Spring Sports Festival, May 18-21, in Denver. Colo.
Francis Marion also avenged a pair of earlier 2016 losses to Georgia College: 6-3 during the regular season and 5-3 in the recent Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
On Sunday, the Patriots took a commanding 3-0 lead after doubles play when long-time FMU head coach Garth Thomson slightly re-worked his line-up. Playing together for only the third time in 2016 and the first time at the No.3 position, Barraza Araiza and sophomore Sofia Henning captured an 8-3 win to provide an early 1-0 advantage.
The All-Conference duo of junior Samantha Koelliker and freshman Marie Krueger then won 8-4 at No.1, to up their season doubles mark to 23-3. Junior Eva Lieben and freshman Anna Wintrich completed the sweep with an 8-5 victory at No.2.
As singles play commenced, Koelliker registered a quick 6-2, 6-1 win at No.2 to up Francis Marion’s lead to 4-0, before the Bobcats took a 6-4, 6-4 win at the No.1 spot. Barraza Araiza then clinched the match with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 victory at the No.6 position.