FLORENCE, S.C. — The Francis Marion University women’s volleyball and men’s soccer teams will both be in post-season action Friday.
The Patriot volleyball squad will face Lander University in the quarterfinal round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament at 6:30 p.m. in Aiken while the FMU men’s soccer team will battle Limestone College at 2 p.m. in the opening round of the NCAA Division II National Tournament in West Palm Beach, Fla.
USC Aiken is serving as host of the 2019 PBC Volleyball Tournament. The Patriots (18-13) are the fifth-seed, while Lander (19-9) is the fourth seed.
Third-seeded Augusta University (24-8) plays sixth-seeded UNC Pembroke (15-20) in the other quarterfinal match at 4 p.m. The semifinals are set for Saturday at 2 and 4:30 p.m., with the championship match slated for Sunday at 1 p.m.
The FMU/Lander winner will meet top-seeded Flagler College (22-7) in Saturday’s second semifinal.
Sophomore Alyssa Hansen leads FMU with 3.09 kills per set, while sophomore setter Finn Millians is averaging 9.88 assists and 2.63 digs per set. Defensively, senior libero Natalie Vaughn digs up 5.03 balls per set, while 6-2 sophomore middle blocker Iyanla Thigpen chips in a team-high 0.95 blocks per set. Junior Courtney Abdur-Rahim leads the Patriots with 0.45 service aces per set.
The Francis Marion men’s soccer team (15-4-1) will be making its third NCAA Tournament appearance, while Limestone (11-6-2) is dancing for the seventh consecutive year.
Friday’s match is one of two first-round matches in the Super Region 2, which is taking place at four different sites. FMU is the seventh seed in the Super Region and Limestone is the 10th-seeded. Friday’s winner will play the host Sailfish (13-2-3), who are the Super Region’s second seed, in a second-round contest on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The four Super Regions will complete play by Sunday with third-round and national quarterfinals to be held on campus sites and completed by Dec. 5-8. The national semifinals and final will be played Dec. 12 and 14 at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Francis Marion advanced to the national quarterfinals in 2000 and to the second round of the 2008 event.
FMU leads the all-time series with Limestone 6-4-0 and has outscored the Saints 27-22 in those 10 meetings. However, the two programs have not met since the 2011 season.
The Patriot program is under the direction of first-year head coach Luis Rincon. The team’s 15 victories equals the third-most wins in a season for the 44-year old program and the squad has set a new single-season mark with 11 shutouts. FMU has scored 36 goals while surrendering only 13. Limestone has tallied 43 goals, while allowing 14.
Sophomore forward Javier Bello leads the Patriots in scoring with 17 points (8 goals, 1 assist), while junior goalkeeper Maximiliano Rocco has played 19 of the 20 matches in goal. He is ranked third in Division II with a school-record 11 shutouts and is ranked fifth nationally in goals against average (0.558), 11th in save percentage (0.833), and 14th in minutes played in goal (1,774:16).