WINGATE, N.C. — The seventh-seeded Newberry Wolves won their first set of the 2013 NCAA Division II Volleyball Tournament, but the second-seeded Armstrong Pirates came back to win three straight sets, ending Newberry’s season with a 3-1 (25-21, 18-25, 15-25, 23-25) loss Thursday.
Newberry was making its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and sees its final record for 2013 stand at 18-13 overall. Armstrong moves to 31-1 on the year and faces third-seeded Flagler in the regional semifinals.
Newberry senior Samantha Parrish put down seven kills with 14 digs and an ace in her final collegiate match. She finishes her career as the school’s all-time leader in kills (1,572) and digs (1,686).
Logan Hayward had seven kills, three digs, an ace and a block, while Elayni Stokes had 14 digs to finish the year with a school single-season record 606.
The trio of Alexus Horton, Jessica King and Amanda Soper each had five kills with Horton making four blocks and King and Soper each making three blocks.
Chelsea Mayor passed out 14 assists, while Rachel Moran had 11 assists and four service aces.
“What mattered most was the service game today,” said Newberry head coach Todd Hay. “Their outsides were terminating points at a pretty good rate, but it was simply a serving and passing game. We were down 17-11 in the fourth set and got it back to 24-23, but couldn’t quite get it to those extra points.
“We felt like it could be a really close match after our first time playing them this season,” he added. “Without a doubt, we showed great effort today. This team has found a way all year to get back into sets and matches, and we showed that towards the end of the fourth set today. I was really proud of our blocking today considering how consistent their outside hitters are.”
“We’ve made so many improvements as a team and came into today with a strong mentality,” Parrish said. “Not even the underclassmen had jitters today, but it just wasn’t our day. It’s been a great career at Newberry and we’ve gotten stronger as a program every year. I expect the best from this team in the years to come.”
Newberry fell behind 10-5 in the opening set, but stormed back to take a 20-16 lead and would go on to win the set 25-21. Horton had two kills and two blocks in the set, while Moran had two aces. The Wolves hit .172 in the set while AASU had 10 errors and hit only .053.
Soper led the Wolves with three kills in the second set, but the Pirates jumped out to an early 9-3 lead thanks to three service aces and cruised to a 25-18 lead despite two more aces from Moran.
Armstrong took a big lead in the third set and took the two sets to one advantage thanks to a .219 hitting rate, while Newberry hit only .000 in the frame despite three kills from Parrish.
The Wolves were behind 17-11 in the fourth set and howled back to cut the lead to 19-18. Armstrong pulled away again at 24-19 before the Wolves fought off match point four times. An Armstrong attempt at 24-23 clipped the line to end the match and send the Pirates to the regional semifinal by a slim margin.
“I told the team today, the seniors have had three of four winning seasons and the juniors have never experienced a losing season here. It’s obvious the program is headed in the right direction,” Hay said.