Lady Bobcats Suffer Heartbreak in NCAA Sweet Sixteen
The number seven seed Lees-McRae College Lady Bobcats Cinderella run at the NCAA Atlantic Regional came to a halt Saturday evening as the Lady Bobcats lost a four set match (32-30, 30-26, 23-30, 30-19) to number one seed, Lock Haven University Lady Eagles.
The Lady Eagles, who also hosted the event on their home court, now advance to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.
The Lady Bobcats played consistently throughout the match as neither team built any scoring runs. The Bobcats held a 30-29 advantage in game one only to have the Lady Eagles pull out a gutsy 32-30 win. Game two was also tightly contested, however the Lady Eagles would take a 2-0 lead and be one win away from making history as the first team to win three consecutive Atlantic Regionals.
Game three found the Lady Bobcats in some familiar territory. Down 0-2 to number two seed California (PA) in the first round, the Lady Bobcats stormed back to avenge an early season loss and take the match 3-2. Lees-McRae, who themselves had already made history over the weekend advancing to the Atlantic Regional final, came out confident in another and looked to pull off another upset as the battled back to take game three with a 30-23 win.
The Lady Bobcats had also avenged an early season loss to Edinboro University in second round play, upsetting the number three seed 3-0. With home court advantage on their side, the Lady Eagles came out flying in the fourth game and took the play to Lees-McRae winning the match 3-1 with a 30-19 win. After knocking off the second and third seeds in the tournament, the Lady Bobcats were unable to turn the trick a third time, as their season came to a close with the Lady Bobcats advancing to the sweet sixteen of the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in program history.
Junior co captain Lacie Smith (Knoxville, TN) and sophomore Caty Honey (Geneva, IL) led the Lady Bobcats with 16 and 14 kills respectively. Freshman Valia Petrova (Sofia, Bulgaria) compiled a match high 43 assists as well as 13 digs and 6 block assists for the Lady Bobcats while senior Bridget Thornton (Owings Mill, MD) and junior Amanda Huffaker (Maryville, TN) added 8 kills each. Thornton also contributed 10 digs and 2 block assists while Huffaker added 5 digs and 6 block assists. Sophomore Dani Usedom (Geneva, IL) added a match high 14 kills on the defensive side of the ball for the Lady Bobcats. At the conclusion of the game, Smith and Huffaker were both named to the Atlantic Regional all tournament team for their play.