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Liberty Runs Winning Streak to Four with Win at ECU

April 5, 2014
|  Greenville, N.C.
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Sophomore Valerie Thong collected wins in both doubles and singles play on Saturday against East Carolina.

The Liberty women's tennis team took a break from Big South Conference play on Saturday morning with a road match at East Carolina. The Lady Flames avenged a 4-3 setback to the Pirates a year ago with a strong 4-0 shutout, extending their winning streak to four matches.

Liberty's second four-match winning streak of the season, ups its record to 12-8 overall. The 12 wins are the most for the Lady Flames since the squad posted 15 victories in 2011. Liberty is also assured its first winning season since 2011 as well. East Carolina's record falls to 10-10 on the season.

The Lady Flames picked up a pair of wins in doubles play to open the match with a 1-0 advantage. Rebekah Jenkins and Maria Khval notched their ninth win of the season with an 8-4 defeat of Dana Gray and Maria Storozheva in the top position.

After Liberty's Brittany Yang and Belen Rivera fell in the No. 2 spot, Cameron Richard and Valerie Thong clinched the point for the Lady Flames with a tight, 8-7, win against Emily Groeneveld and Melis Tanik, at No. 3. Richard and Thong are now unbeaten in their last seven contests as a pair.

Rivera tallied Liberty's second point of the day with a 6-3, 6-2 ousting of Castro in the No. 1 singles position. The sophomore is now a perfect 2-0 in the top spot.

Mariely Hassey won her third match in a row, knocking off LaDuca, 7-5, 6-2, at No. 5. Thong followed with the decisive point, besting Gray, 6-4, 6-1, in the No. 6 spot. 

The remaining three singles matches, featuring Liberty's Yang at No. 2, Jenkins at No. 3 and Nicola Wellman at No. 4, were each ruled unfinished.

In an exhibition doubles match, the Lady Flames' Lauren Mabe and Annisha Domenech teamed up to defeat Scarlett Walston and Karling Watson, 6-4.

"The girls definitely stepped up their game today," commented Liberty assistant coach Giancarlo Lemmi. "This past week, we had to deal with illnesses and injuries. Today they left all of those things behind and played one of their best matches as a team. I am very proud of them!"

The Lady Flames close out the Big South portion of their schedule on Wednesday with a road match at Longwood at 2 p.m.

Liberty 4, East Carolina 0
DOUBLES
1. Rebekah Jenkins/Maria Khval (LU) def.  Dana Gray/Maria Storozheva (ECU), 8-4
2. Nicole LaDuca/Michelle Castro (ECU) def. Brittany Yang/Belen Rivera (LU), 8-3
3. Cameron Richard/Valerie Thong (LU) def. Emily Groeneveld/Melis Tanik (ECU), 8-7

SINGLES
1. Belen Rivera (LU) def. Michelle Castro (ECU), 6-3, 6-2
2. Brittany Yang (LU) vs. Melis Tanik (ECU), 3-6, 6-3, 1-1 DNF
3. Rebekah Jenkins (LU) vs. Maria Storozheva (ECU), 4-6, 3-5 DNF
4. Nicola Wellman (LU) vs. Emily Groeneveld (ECU), 4-6, 2-0 DNF
5. Mariely Hassey (LU) def. Nicole LaDuca (ECU), 7-5, 6-2
6. Valerie Thong (LU) def. Dana Gray (ECU), 6-4, 6-1