DENVER, Colo. - The No. 3-ranked Armstrong State University women's tennis team captured the 10th NCAA Division II National Championship in program history with a 5-3 win over top-ranked BYU-Hawaii on Saturday at the Regency Athletic Complex in Denver, Colo., as a part of the DII Spring Sports Festival.
The Pirates (32-1) extend their own NCAA DII record for most championships with the win - with five of those coming at the expense of the Seasiders (25-1), who hold the second-most DII titles. Armstrong State is now 5-3 in title meetings with BYUH.
Armstrong State trailed after doubles play as BYU Hawaii won at No. 1 and No. 2 doubles to take a 2-1 lead heading into singles. The Pirates got their doubles point at No. 3 as Nicole Fossa Huergo and Lena Pacholski defeated Jade Griffin and Kanela Adamson, 8-3. The top-ranked doubles duo of Dallas Zhang and Summer Wen defeated No. 3-ranked Lena Lutzeier and Diana Stomlega, 8-5, at No. 1 doubles, then No. 10-ranked Karen Liu and Shu-Yiing Hsieh defeated Carolina Prats-Millan and Alejandra Cisneros, 8-3, at No. 2 doubles.
"We knew they were really tough in doubles," Armstrong State head coach Sean McCaffrey said. "Particularly at number one and two. I was hoping we could come out with a 2-1 lead, that was my goal. But I knew we could get some things accomplished in singles."
Which they did. Pacholski picked up a very quick 6-1, 6-2 win over Griffin to tie the match up at 2-2. No. 44-ranked Prats-Millan then defeated No. 46-ranked Hsieh, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 4 singles to put the Pirates up 3-2. No. 9-ranked Cisneros gave the Pirates the lead with a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 20-ranked Wen at No. 3 singles.
The other three singles players for the Pirates dropped their first sets, but both Stomlega at No. 5 ingles and Lutzeier at No. 1 singles rallied to split sets. BYU Hawaii picked up a point at No. 2 singles as No. 7-ranked Liu defeated No. 6-ranked Fossa Huergo, 6-4, 7-5, to put all eyes on the two courts in the third sets.
Stomlega shook off a 6-0 loss in the first set to win the second set, 6-1, then clinched the match for the Pirates with a 6-3 win over BYU Hawaii's Jeong-Min Jeon in the final set and give Armstrong State its historic 10th title.
"In the singles, I started so bad," Stomlega said. "I couldn't put a ball in. But in the second set I tried to run and just put the balls in the court. I was trying to just play my game. I'm so proud of my teammates."
"I told our women that if we could just stay out here as long as we possibly could, I know they [BYU-Hawaii] obviously very well-coached," McCaffrey said. "The amount of time and effort that our women put in, playing strong matches, though - we played every top 10 team we possibly could and playing those matches really helped us out today."
Armstrong State successfully defended its 2015 title and the Pirates have now won four of the last five NCAA Division II Women's Tennis National Championships, as well as seven of the last nine.