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No. 74 Liberty on the Road at No. 63 Marshall, Longwood This Weekend

March 6, 2014
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Rebekah Jenkins

The No. 74 ranked Liberty women's tennis team puts its first ever ITA top-75 national ranking to the test this weekend with a pair of road matches. The Lady Flames challenge No. 63 Marshall on Saturday at 11 a.m., before returning to Big South play on Sunday with a 1 p.m. contest at Longwood.

Liberty (7-3, 2-1 Big South) is off to its best 10-match start since the 2008 season. That year, the Lady Flames started 7-3 and finished with a 13-4 record. Liberty has put together winning streaks of three and four matches so far this season. The Lady Flames split a pair of matches this past weekend in South Carolina. Liberty downed Coastal Carolina, 4-3, before falling at Charleston Southern, 5-2.

The Lady Flames are looking for their first win in four tries against the Thundering Herd. Last season, Marshall improved to 3-0 all-time versus Liberty with a 6-1 win in Lynchburg on April 6. Against Longwood, the Lady Flames lead the all-time series 8-4. Liberty has won three in a row against the Lancers and five out of the last six matches overall. The last time the two Commonwealth foes faced each other the Lady Flames won 4-3 on Feb. 20, 2013, giving head coach Jeff Maren his first career win at the helm of the program.

Liberty is 0-1 so far this season against nationally ranked opponents. The Lady Flames fell to then No. 58 Kansas State, 7-0, on Feb. 1. Liberty also lost at current No. 33 ranked Kansas on Feb. 2, 5-2.

Maria Khval leads the Lady Flames in singles wins through the first 10 matches of the season. The freshman is 7-3, playing predominantly in the No. 2 position. A trio of Lady Flames, Belen Rivera, Nicola Wellman and Brittany Yang, are tied for second on the squad with six singles victories apiece. In doubles play, Khval and partner Rebekah Jenkins pace the team with a 5-2 mark in the No. 1 spot. Liberty is 36-24 as a team in singles matches and 16-9 in doubles contests.

Marshall enters Saturday's match with an 8-3 overall record and a 1-2 mark versus ranked teams. The Thundering Herd is coming off a 6-1 win against Miami (Ohio) on Sunday. Each of Marshall's six singles players has a winning record, including Karli Timko's team-best 9-2 record. In doubles tilts, Timko and Anna Pomyatinskaya lead the team with a 5-2 mark.

Longwood (2-3, 1-1 Big South) is coming off a 7-0 setback versus UNC Asheville. As a team, the Lancers are 11-19 in singles matches and 7-8 in doubles tilts. No. 1 singles player Malin Allgurin paces the team with a 3-2 record. Allgurin and Sarah Moomau are tied with Bethany Law and Mason Thomas for the team lead in doubles wins with three.

The Lady Flames' busy spring break schedule continues next week with a trio of matches in the Lone Star state. Liberty challenges UTSA on Tuesday, before playing No. 66 New Mexico on March 14 in Denton, Texas and North Texas on March 15.