WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The No. 3 seed and No. 11 ranked University of Tampa Spartans, defeat the No. 1 seed and the No. 16 ranked Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish in four sets by scores of 26-28, 25-21, 25-21, and 29-27. This win marks Tampa's 18thSouth Regional Title, their first since 2014. This is also the 26th consecutive year that a team from the Sunshine State Conference has won the NCAA South Regional. Tampa will advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals in Pittsburgh, Pa. beginning on Thursday, November 29th.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Final: No. 11 University of Tampa 3, No. 16 Palm Beach Atlantic 1 (26-28, 25-21, 25-21, and 29-27)
Records: Tampa Spartans (30-4, 17-3 SSC) vs. PBA Sailfish (29-5, 16-4 SSC)
Location: Rubin Arena | West Palm Beach, Fla.
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Sailfish defeated the Spartans in the first set in extra points, 28-26. However, the Spartans bounced back and took the next three sets 25-21, 25-21, and 29-27. No surprise, sophomore outside hitter, Katie McKiel led the Spartans on offense, earning 21 kills in the match with a kill percentage of .255. Additionally, she earned her 20thdouble-double on the season with 16 digs on the night. Following McKiel's efforts was that of the junior middle blocker, Taylor Fosler. Fosler had 16 kills on 25 attempts, committing just one error. The Ocala, Fla. native ended the regional championship with a team-high hitting percentage of .600. Sorrel Houghton and Alexandra Misca were two other Spartans who earned kills in the double digits. Houghton ended with 15 kills hitting .342, while Misca logged 10 and an average kill percentage of .444. Sophomore setter Sammy Mueller played lights out for the Spartans. Mueller quarterbacked the Spartans offense earning her 17thdouble-double of the season with 61 assists and 16 digs. Defensively, Tampa was led by libero Nicole Dominguez who tallied 22 digs, following by McKiel and Mueller with 16. Additionally, freshman defensive specialist, Claudia Rivera, played a significant role for the Spartans, picking up 14 digs for Tampa.
The Spartans outplayed the Sailfish in nearly every statistical category. Tampa out-hit PBA 70 to 60 kills respectively with team hitting percentages of .301 and .213. UT ended the match with 64 assists to PBA's 52, and 78 digs to their 75. The Sailfish outperformed the Spartans in two categories, serving and blocking. Tampa missed 13 serves as a team to PBA's nine. Additionally, PBA had five service aces, while Tampa only recorded 3. PBA also recorded four more blocks than the Spartans.
Due to their outstanding performances in the NCAA South Regional, four Spartans were selected to the NCAA South Regional all-tournament team. Those Spartans included Katie McKiel, Sammy Mueller, Taylor Fosler, and Sorrel Houghton.
INSIDE THE STATS:
• Four Spartans had 10 or more kills including, McKiel (21), Fosler (16), Houghton (15), and Misca (10).
• Two Spartans earned double-doubles, McKiel and Mueller.
• Fosler earned 16 kills, just two shy of her season-high of 18 (9/1/18). Rivera was also just two digs shy of her season and career-high of 16 digs (10/20/18).
• Mueller earned a season-high and tied her career-high in single-game assists with 61.
• Nylah Demps and Melissa Elias also contributed to the Spartans offensive performance with six and two kills respectively.
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:
The Spartans lead the all-time series over the Sailfish 11-5. This was the third meeting between the two teams this season, with the two splitting during the regular season.
The Spartans will travel to Pittsburgh, Pa. to play in the NCAA Quarterfinals. The Quarterfinals will begin on Thursday, November 29th. UT will be re-seeded after all of the regional final matches conclude later tonight. Live stats and a live video webcast will be provided through www.tampaspartans.com.
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