Flagler Wins Third Straight PBC Volleyball Tournament Title!
AUGUSTA, GA – After dropping the opening set, the Flagler Saints roared back to win the next three and their third consecutive PBC Tournament Championship 3-1 over Armstrong Atlantic State on Sunday in Augusta. Flagler becomes the first volleyball team since 2001 to win three straight tournament titles, set scores were 15-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21. With the win, Flagler (28-6) earns the Peach Belt’s automatic bid to next week’s NCAA Tournament. Armstrong falls in the tournament final for the third year in a row and to 35-2 on the year, both losses coming to Flagler.
It was Armstrong who looked to be in control early on, playing a nearly flawless opening set and cruising to a 10-point win. The Pirates hit .450 in the opening stanza with only one attack error and 19 kills. The big blow came midway through the set. Armstrong led 12-10 before going on a 6-0 run capped by a kill from Brendyce Budd. Armstrong answered with back-to-back kills from Jessica Santaniello and won five of the final seven points to take the set.
Things changed in set two as the two teams were evenly matched and played a back-and-forth affair throughout. The score was tied at 21 when Flagler rattled off three points in a row with kills from Emilee Taylor and Rachel Stacy combined with a Pirate attack error. Taylor finished the set with a kill.
The third set belonged to Flagler early with a 16-12 lead following one of the six Armstrong attack errors of the set. But the Pirates fought back with six of the next nine points and tailed 19-18 with a block from Budd and Brittany Wolf. The score was tied at 21 when Dianna Craine had back-to-back kills to open a small gap. Flagler setter Olivia Snipes finished the set with a sneak-attack kill as she faked a set attempt.
Flagler’s defense held strong in the fourth set as Armstrong hit .102, their worst percentage of the match. Flagler led 17-13 when Armstrong went on a 5-1 run to tie things at 18. Amanda Jones had two kills during that run. The score was tied and 19 and again at 20 before Flagler got two kills from Taylor and an ace from Sophie Meyer. Taylor had the kill on the championship point.
Craine led the Saints with 17 kills while Meyer had 13 and Taylor 12. Tournament Most Valuable Player Olivia Snipes had 41 assists and 19 digs; Casey Gnann led the Saints with 30 digs overall. Flagler out-dug Armstrong 91-79 in the match, but the Pirates held the edge in blocks nine to six.
Brittany Wolf and Amanda Jones each had 13 kills for Armstrong while Santaniello, Budd and Leia Pittman had nine each. Ashley Seal had 45 assists while Stacey Davis led the team with 24 digs.
Armstrong is assured a spot in the NCAA regional field when the NCAA announces the lineup tonight at 10 pm eastern time.
Marissa Baker, UNC Pembroke
Alex Rohlfing, Augusta State
Brittany Wolf, Armstrong
Amanda Jones, Armstrong
Dianna Craine, Flagler
Tournament Most Valuable Player
Olivia Snipes, Flagler