'Fish Advance with Sweep of USC Aiken

Written By: TJ Budd, Sports Information Director

Courtesy TJ BuddCourtesy TJ Budd

Box Score

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Sailfish picked up a 3-0 win over No. 7 seed USC Aiken on Thursday in the NCAA Quarterfinals, as No. 2 PBA advances to the semifinals on Friday to face Alaska Anchorage. The Seawolves upset No. 3 seed Angelo State earlier in the day.

The ‘Fish were able to overcome a slow start where they hit just .114 in the first set to sweep the Pacers 25-23, 25-22, 25-20 at the Sanford Pentagon. Sarah Ragland led the way with 10 kills as the offense heated up in sets two and three and finished with a .217 attack. Freshman Olivia Finckel had eight kills on 15 attacks with zero errors and also collected four blocks.

The Pacers only had the lead one time throughout the match, taking the first point. Though they were able to tie the match and never fell behind by a large margin, the Sailfish were too much in the end. The PBA block collected 11 team blocks in the match with Emma Ballantyne setting the pace with nine. Molly Burkhardt and Abby Palkert added three each while Ragland collected two.

A 5-0 run midway through the first gave the ‘Fish a 15-10 team and finally some breathing room in a close set. The Pacers scored four straight later in the set to pull within one at 20-19 and eventually pulled even at 22-22. Ragland followed with a kill and Ballantyne gave the ‘Fish set point. After the Pacers scored, it was Burkhardt’s only kill of the match that gave the ‘Fish the 1-0 set lead.

PBA had a much better start to set two, leading 7-3 and 14-8 as the ‘Fish picked up nine kills in those early stages with Palkert collecting three herself. A 4-0 spurt pushed the Sailfish lead to 18-10 and the ‘Fish led 24-17 before the Pacers scored five straight to make things close at the end before an attack error from USCA’s Christine Carroll put the ‘Fish up 2-0 in the match.

In the third the Sailfish got out to a 7-1 lead thanks to several mistakes by the Pacers. USCA had three attack errors and Burkhardt had an ace for the ‘Fish as PBA was looking for the sweep. The Pacers were never able to score more than two points in a row during the set as the ‘Fish kept their distance before Ballantyen and Maddie Span picked up the combined block to end the match and send the ‘Fish into the semifinals for the second straight year.

PBA will take on the Seawolves from Alaska Anchorage who entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed and defeated No. 3 Angelo State 3-1 on Thursday. ASU took the opener 25-14 before UAA responded to take the next three 25-22, 27-25, 25-16.

That match between the ‘Fish and Seawolves will take place at 5 p.m. CST on Friday in the day’s first semifinal. The winner advances to Saturday’s championship match.

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