WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Behind an 18-kill blitz from senior Berkley Whaley, the No. 3 University of Tampa volleyball team swept Eckerd College to open the NCAA Division II South Region Tournament in Rubin Arena on Thursday.
The Spartans improve to 27-5 and continue on in the NCAA Tournament while the Tritons conclude their season with a 17-14 overall record.
Whaley terrorized the opposition, unleashing 18 kills at a blistering .531 clip from the outside pin. The senior turned her 18th double-double of the season, combining a game-high 17 digs to her offensive efforts. Middle blocker Jessica Wagner posted double-digit kills with 11 at a match-high .556 attack efficiency. Right-side hitter Marissa Lisenbee grounded 10 kills to round out the Spartan attack.
Setter Gina Clarke tuned the hitters to a team .320 attack percentage with 36 assists. The junior added her own double-double effort with 11 digs on defense.
Tampa totaled seven team blocks with middle blocker Demery Zachery leading the way with four. Lisenbee added three while Wagner and Whaley stopped two apiece. The back row was led by Whaley as the senior combined with libero Logan Holanchock to pace the defense. Holanchock posted 12 digs while sophomore Jen Aprile produced eight.
Senior Whaley peppered five kills in the opening set, as both teams fought for advantage. Eckerd would tie the set twice, but Tampa would not surrender the lead, opening the contest with a 25-22 first set victory.
The offensive tandem of Wagner and Whaley pushed the Tritons into a two-set hole as the duo combined for 12 kills in the second stanza. Whaley secured a double-double effort as the senior added seven kills and seven digs to her opening set performance. Middle blocker Wagner caught-fire, dowsing the Tritons with a 5-kill assault to take the frame 25-19 in the opening round of the South Region Tournament.
The Spartans broke away in the third and final set, finishing the sweep behind a 6-kill salvo from Whaley. Wagner added another five kills as Tampa rolled past Eckerd by a 25-14 third set score.
The Tritons had three hitters post seven kills, as the Spartans were able to stymie the Eckerd attack. Outside hitter Tjasa Kotnik boasted seven kills and eight digs while libero Kaitlyn Sibson totaled 13 digs.
UT advances to the South Region Semifinal to face rival Florida Southern College. The Friday contest will feature the third meeting this season between the two squads, slated for a 5 p.m. start. Live stats and a live video webcast will be made available through www.tampaspartans.com.
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