ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Barry University women's tennis team will compete for the NCAA Division II National Championship after beating Hawai'i Pacific, 5-1, in the semifinals Friday at Sanlando Park.
The No. 1 Buccaneers (27-1) defeated the No. 5 Sea Warriors (18-7) for the second time this season to reach the title match for the first time since 2011. That year Barry won its first title, also at Sanlando Park.
Barry will play No. 2 Armstrong Atlantic (28-1) at 9 a.m. Saturday for the title. The Bucs beat the Pirates, 5-4, in February. Armstrong has knocked Barry out of the NCAA Tournament the last two years, having beaten the Bucs in the quarterfinals last season.
Barry is making its third trip to the NCAA Championship match. The Bucs were runner-up to BYU-Hawaii in 2003, also in Altamonte Springs.
"We're excited to be back," said Bucs assistant coach Maria Lopez, who has played or coached for all of Barry's teams that advanced to the NCAA title match.
In Friday's semifinal match, Barry's No. 7-ranked Emma Onila and Linda Fritschken carved out an 8-3 win over Lorena Gheorghe and Magdalena Smejova at No. 2 doubles for the Bucs' first win. HPU's Vivian Hansen and Lea Kruse-Utermann beat Karina Goia and Blanka Szavay, 8-4, at No. 3 doubles to tie the match at 1-1.
Barry's No. 6-ranked duo of Kimmy Twelker and Ana Pain sent the Buccaneers into singles with a 2-1 lead after defeating No. 21 Karen Ramirez and Celina Goetti, 8-4, at the top flight.
Onila, the seventh-ranked singles player in the country led 6-1, 2-0 when her opponent, the 21st-ranked Ramirez, retired at the No. 1 spot. That put Barry ahead, 3-1.
Barry's Elisabeth Abanda won her team-leading 19th match of the season, beating Hansen, 6-4, 6-1, at No. 5 singles. Goia, the No. 9-ranked player in the country, won her first singles match since April 5, 6-4, 6-2 over Goetti to send the Bucs to the championship. Goia had not finished a postseason singles match this year.
"It feels great that I could close the match," Goia said. "Today I got a little bit of my confidence back, so I'm happy."
Ranked No. 23, Fritschken led Smejova, 6-2, 2-2, at No. 3 when Goia clinched. Pain won a first set tiebreaker, 7-6 (7-1), before dropping the first three games in the second set in her No. 4 match against Gheorghe. Twelker dropped the first set to Kruse-Utermann, 6-2, before ralling to win the second, 6-0, and take a 4-1 lead in the third.
"We have been prepared, and try to prepare the girls as much as we can," Lopez said. "But none of them have been in this situation. It's a great feeling. We're very comfortable here. We're just excited to play here where we have some very good memories."