COLUMBUS, GA – Fourth-ranked and top-seeded Columbus State University gained straight-set singles wins at positions No. 4, 5, and 6 to register a 5-1 win over 28th-ranked and fourth-seeded Francis Marion University, Tuesday afternoon (May 2) in the championship match of the NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Southeast Regional #1.
Francis Marion ends its season at 14-9 after making its ninth appearance in a regional final over the past 11 seasons. Three of the Patriots losses in 2017 were to CSU. The home standing Cougars (24-2) advance to the Sweet 16 National Championships, May 10-13, in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Columbus State took a 2-0 advantage in doubles play with an 8-1 win at the No.2 spot and an 8-4 victory at No.3. FMU junior Sofia Henning and sophomore Anna Wintrich were tied at 2-2 at No.3 before the Cougars duo of Giorgia Vitale and Rachael Williams won six of the next eight games.
At No.1 doubles, FMU senior Samantha Koelliker and sophomore Marie Krueger upset the nation's fifth-ranked doubles team of Beatriz Leon and Beatriz Lopez 9-8, with the Patriots winning the tiebreaker 7-4. Francis Marion led 7-5, but CSU rallied to knot the match at 8-8 and force the tiebreaker. After falling behind 3-1 in the tiebreaker, Krueger and Koelliker rallied to win six of the next seven points. Krueger finished the victory with an over-head smash at the net.
That victory moved Koelliker into a tie for third place with Julia Graf on the Patriot career list for doubles wins. Koelliker finishes her career with a 69-22 mark.
Columbus State quickly moved to a 4-1 lead with straight-set wins at singles spots No. 4 and 5. The Cougars clinched the match when Olivera Tadijin defeated FMU freshman Theresa Hammerschlag 6-2, 6-4 at the No.6 position.
When the match ended, Koelliker was only one game from winning at No.1 and fellow Patriot senior Eva Lieben was two games from winning at No.2.
Koelliker ends her singles career fifth on the FMU all-time list with a 62-21 record. She recently became the 14th player in the PBC women's tennis history to earn All-Conference honors all four years.
Match Notes: Francis Marion University 14-9; National ranking #28; Regional ranking #5 Columbus State 24-2; National ranking #4; Regional ranking #1 Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (5,4,6) T-3:11 A-82 NCAA Tournament - Southeast Regional #1 championship match ; Seeds: #1 Columbus St., #4 Francis Marion