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Hatters Upset No. 1 USC to Advance in NCAA Championship

Gulf Shores, Ala. — Stetson had prepared all week to make a mark in the NCAA Championship, and when the opportunity came against the Trojans, the Hatters were ready to seize it.

Quinci Birker and Rebecca Ingram had the clinching point on Court 5 as No. 8 Stetson upset No. 1 seed and two-time national champion USC 3-1 Friday morning in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Gulf Shores Beach.

“This is huge,” Stetson head coach Kristina Hernandez said.  “To beat the No. 1 seed, a multiple-time national champion, I think everyone was going to take us for granted. We just focused on ourselves and not who was on the other side. I think that we have a lot more to do here and lot more to say for ourselves.”

Rachel Noble and Ana Costa won 2-0 on Court 3 and Darby Dunn and Sammee Thomas also won 2-0 on Court 2 to mark the first ever dual match win for an 8 seed at the NCAA Championship.

“Holy cow, I don’t even know where to start,” Thomas said.  “We had a good game plan going into it and we just had so much energy and things were going our way and we just fed off of it and kept going. It was amazing.”

It was also Stetson’s 30th victory of the season, 14th in a row, and first ever victory over a No. 1 ranked team.

“I was so happy to see them dialed in on every point and we didn’t let those close sets slip away from us, especially at the 2s and 3s,” Hernadez said.  “Looking at the scoreboard, Bec and Q obviously had a nice little cushion in that second set, and I’m so glad that they stayed focused and really aggressive.

“I’m elated right now with our entire team.”

Stetson (30-8) recorded its first-ever win over USC (28-4) and advances to face LSU in the winner’s bracket at 4 p.m. ET Friday on ESPNU.  The Tigers (30-6) defeated the Hatters 3-2 on March 30 in Miami Beach.