by: DUKE UNIVERSITY Rebecca Ward, a Duke senior, won her third NCAA women's sabre championship on Friday.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Duke University's Becca Ward, an Olympic fencer from Cedar Mill, captured her third NCAA women's sabre championship on Friday.

Ward, the No. 1 seed, defeated No. 2-seeded Monica Aksamit of Penn State 15-12 in the final.

Ward, a senior, becomes the fifth woman fencer in NCAA history to win three championships and the first to win three times in sabre. She also won in 2009 and 2011. A four-time All-America honoree, she is the Duke fencer to win multiple national titles.

"It's gotten more and more emotional each time, because I feel closer and closer to the team and with (coach Alex Beguinet)," Ward said. "It was really emotional to fence the last time for Duke. It was an amazing experience, and I'm glad to have my team here with me."

Ward noted that she and Aksamit know each other well.

"I had traveled with her before, so we'd gone and fenced together and had watched each other fence," Ward said. "It was odd fencing her in the final bout because we were both very cognizant of how each other fenced and were both trying to change a lot. It was a different bout than what would have been had we not traveled together.

"It was back and forth, but I pulled it out in the end. It was all really emotional afterward. I couldn't be happier."

Ward defeated fourth-seeded Eliza Stone of Princeton 15-5 in Friday's semifinals - a rematch of the 2011 title match - while Aksamit dispatched of three seed Anna Limbach of St. John's 15-8.

"I fenced Eliza in the semis and also in the last round, so it was really fresh having just faced her," Ward said. "I just wanted to go in and be aggressive, control the bout from the beginning and not let her get confident. It was a decisive bout, and I was really happy with how I fenced."

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