AIKEN, S.C. – The fourth-seeded Lander volleyball team saw its Peach Belt Tournament come to an end Saturday afternoon as the Bearcats fell to top-seeded Flagler, 3-2.
Lander (20-10) returned to the PBC Tournament semifinals for the second consecutive season, the first time the Bearcats had accomplished that feat since 2014-15. Flagler (24-7) returns to the PBC Tournament championship for the fifth time in six years.
The Bearcats and Saints combined for 24 ties in the match, including six apiece in the first, third, and fifth sets.
Lander erased a 10-9 deficit in the first set with a 6-1 run highlighted by five kills from Kyra Ross, as the Bearcats held off Flagler for a 25-20 win. The Saints swung momentum in the second set, leading by as many as nine en route to a 25-19 win to tie the match. Flagler followed in the third set by racing out to a 19-9 lead before withstanding a furious Bearcat rally to take a 25-23 win and a 2-1 advantage in the match.
The Bearcats made their stand in the fourth set, down 24-22. A kill from Ross and a Saint error tied the score at 24-24 before Alexa Barral gave Lander its first lead of the set. Flagler tied the set with a kill, but back-to-back errors from the Saints gave Lander a 27-25 win and sent the match to a fifth set.
The final frame featured six ties through the first 16 points, but Flagler closed on a 7-2 run to end the match and advance to the championship.
The match was the first PBC Tournament semifinal to go five sets since 2010.
Ross led Lander with 15 kills and added 18 digs, while Hannah McManus tallied a team-high 31 digs and Reilly Kuenstler posted eight kills and four block assists. Madilyn Reed notched 46 assists and 22 digs. Hannah Hritz finished with 14 kills, while Maya Walker added 10. Boo Luther posted 18 digs and Corey Nichols finished with 17.
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