WINGATE, N.C. -- Armstrong Atlantic State notched a come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Flagler in the 2013 NCAA Southeast Regional semifinals on Friday afternoon at Cuddy Arena in Wingate, N.C. Set scores were: 25-19, 23-25, 18-25, 26-24, 15-12.
The Pirates (32-1) eliminated the Saints (21-13) for the first time in four tries at Cuddy Arena as Flagler ended Armstrong's NCAA runs in 2009, 2010 and 2011 at the Wingate venue.
Armstrong took the first set behind a balanced offensive performance as seniors Jessica Santaniello, junior Stephanie Sfara and freshman Emily Wylie each had four kills in the 25-19 win.
Both teams hit incredibly well in the second set but the Saints were a bit better in the two-point win as Flagler hit .441 with 19 kills while the Pirates hit .343 with 17 kills.
Mistakes cost the Pirates in the third set as Armstrong had five service errors, six hitting errors and two reception errors in Flagler's 25-18 win. The Saints had just nine kills in the set.
The fourth set saw Armstrong rally from an early deficit behind the serve of Sfara to take a 13-8 lead. Flagler rallied to tie the set at 23-all, but a kill from Stephanie Sfara and a hitting error from Emilee Taylor gave the Pirates a 26-24 win in the set to send the match to a fifth set.
Armstrong opened up the deciding set with a 6-2 lead, but Flagler scored five consecutive points to take a 7-6 edge. A pair of attack errors by the Saints put the Pirates back in front 10-9 and a kill from junior Taylor Permenter put away the match at 15-12.
Flagler set a new school record in the match with 21 team blocks, but Armstrong overcame that to hit .228 in the match, compared to .213 for Flagler.
Senior Megan Pando notched 61 assists, just one off of her career high, while Armstrong had four players in double digit kills, led by 16 apiece from Santaniello and Sfara. Senior Kristen Holmes hit .429 with 12 kills and freshman Emily Wylie notched 14 kills. Junior Morgan Hill tallied a match-high 15 digs.
Flagler was led by 14 kills and 10 blocks from Abby Meyers, while Emilee Taylor added 10 kills. Amelia Morgan notched 27 assists and Caitlyn Kovach collected 13 digs. Megan Hooks also had 10 blocks in the match, including three solo blocks.
This is Armstrong's second appearance in the third round as the Pirates advanced to the Southeast Region Final in 2008, defeating Catawba College 3-0, at Cuddy Arena to earn a berth into the quarterfinals.