By Berry Aldridge, Sports Editor
The Armstrong Pirates volleyball team ended their successful season with a 3-2 loss to Wingate University on Saturday, Nov. 22 after winning the Peach Belt Conferece regular season and tournament championship and advancing to the Southeast Region Final in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. The game went to five sets, only the fifth time for the Pirates this season, and the scores stood at 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 19-25, and 15-11.
The Pirates path to the sweet sixteen was nearly flawless as the team finished their season with a 30-3 record. The team ran a 19-game win streak throughout the regular season that lasted a month and a half. They hosted the PBC tournament and dominated by only losing one set. The team traveled to Wingate, NC to play in the NCAA Tournament as a 2 seed.
The Pirates played Lenoir-Rhyne in the first round on Nov. 20 and hit .351 with 71 digs while the Bears only hit .169 with 59 digs. The Pirates won the game 3-1 with scores of 25-20, 22-25, 25-9, and 25-22. Emily Wylie led her team with a career-high 23 kills and hit .526.
The second round saw the Pirates square off against the Carson-Newman Eagles on Friday, Nov. 21. The Pirates shut out the Eagles 3-0 with scores of 25-10, 25-18, and 25-15. Rachel Thompson hit .353 with eight kills to pace the Pirates.
Thompson led her team against Wingate in the third round by hitting .500 with 11 kills and Anna McGee added 11 kills as well. Stephanie Sfara added 10 kills, while Kamryn Sherman posted 39 assists and led the team with 10 digs.
The Pirates’ success did not go unnoticed as five members of the squad received AVCA All-Southeast Region honors. Seniors Morgan Hill, Sherman, and Sfara along with sophomores Thompson and Wylie were named to the 14-player team.
This everyone’s first appearance on the team with the exception of Sfara who makes her second appearance. She hit .280 for the year and led her team with 383 kills. She also earned All-PBC honors and became the 10th player in Armstrong history to record 1,000 digs.
Wylie earned a spot on the team after winning AVCA Southeast Region Freshman of the Year last season. She hit .311 with 334 kills and was the PBC Tournament MVP. Sherman led the PBC with 1,282 assists and was also named PBC Setter of the Year.
Thompson led the PBC and ranked 8th in the nation in hitting percentage at .394. She earned PBC All-Conference and NCAA All-Region Tournament honors. Hill was named PBC Co-Libero of the Year by notching 470 digs. She also set the single season (4.23) and career digs per set mark (4.06) at Armstrong.