SAVANNAH, Ga. — Tusculum earned its first NCAA Division II tournament victory in program history as the fourth-seeded Pioneers outlasted No. 5 seed Lincoln Memorial in a fiveset thriller in the Southeast Regional quarterfinal Thursday night. The eightteam, single-elimination regional is being hosted by Armstrong Atlantic State University.
Tusculum (23-7) won the match by scores of 25-21, 18-25, 25-16, 18-25, 15-12 to advance to Friday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal against either top-seed Armstrong or No. 8-seed Belmont Abbey.
Two-time All-America first team libero/defensive specialist Caitlyn Dean led the TC charge with her 40-dig performance, while establishing a new NCAA DII single-season record (882). Dean held the previous DII mark of 845 digs in her 2010 freshman campaign.
Freshman Danae Stauffer tallied a match-high 17 kills, while senior Alyssa Raterman accounted for 15 kills, two blocks and a sizzling .542 hitting percentage. Junior Kassie Voelker added nine kills, eight digs and two blocks, while sophomore Megan Hasse finished with nine kills, nine digs and two blocks.
Senior Sam Underwood posted eight kills, including four in the final frame alone, while tallying the winning point with a kill in the deciding set.
Junior setter Ashley Sarmiento recorded a double-double with her 46 assists and 12 digs as the Pioneers have won 10 of its last 11 contests, including three wins over the Railsplitters (21-14).
LMU’s Kaitlyn Walton posted 16 kills and a .382 attack percentage, while Casey Mense contributed a double-double with her 10 kills and 29 digs. Allison Beavers added 29 assists and six kills, while Blaire Fowler tallied 12 kills and eight digs in the loss.
Tusculum limited LMU to an -.021 hitting percentage in capturing the opening set 25-21. TC rallied from a 21-20 deficit late in the frame by scoring five unanswered points. Stauffer posted five kills in the set, while Dean accounted for 13 digs in the opening stanza, including her fifth in the frame that broke the NCAA record.