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Lady Flames Grab Share of Conference Lead
Fittingly, Jordan Jenkins clinched the Lady Flames' 4-3 victory over Coastal Carolina, Sunday afternoon, with a three-set win in the lead singles contest, giving the Liberty women a share of first place in the Big South Conference on what served as senior day for the team. Prior to the beginning of the match, seniors Jenkins, Hannah Fick and Valeriyah Klintsevich were each honored for their contributions to the women's tennis program.
The Lady Flames continued their impressive play, with the win marking their eighth-consecutive victory. Their record now stands at 13-6 for 2011, including a 5-1 mark in Big South contests. The five conference wins is the second-highest mark for the program, only trailing the 2009 squad which went 6-1 in Big South play. Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina's record drops to 16-5 overall and 4-1 in Big South action.
In doubles play, Carol Lobel and Klintsevich continued their dominance, picking up their 11th win as a duo. The junior-senior pairing defeated Caitlyn Brooksbank and Kourtney Kowal, 8-3 in the No. 3 match to keep a perfect 4-0 record in Big South matches. In the No. 2 contest, Miki Bunea and Diana Mortlock responded for the Chanticleers, earning an 8-3 win of their own.
With the No. 1 match being the deciding factor for the doubles point, Jenkins and Fick came roaring back to secure the team point. After trailing 6-3 to Lexi Bolesky and Mikaela Kristofersson at one point in the match, the experienced senior pair rallied back to win, 9-7 to give the Lady Flames a 1-0 lead. The win keeps the pair unscathed in Big South doubles matches with a 5-0 mark.
Coastal Carolina responded quickly in singles action, claiming the No. 5 and No. 2 matches to take a 2-1 lead. Freshman Alexandra Sheeran then notched the first singles victory for the homestanding Lady Flames, defeating Kristofersson in straight sets at No. 4, 7-5, 6-1. The win is Sheeran's 12th of the season.
The Chanticleers gained the momentary lead with a 6-3, 7-6 win from Maria Hesketh over Annisha Domenech in the No. 6 match, but that would prove to be the visitors' last win on the afternoon.
Freshman Cameron Richard held pace with her fellow classmate, Sheeran, in the No. 3 tilt as she also won her 12th singles contest of the season. However, after Richard claimed the opening frame, 6-3 she was forced into a third set when Kowal won the second, 6-4. The Birmingham, Ala., native proved strong down the stretch, earning the victory behind a 6-1 final set triumph.
With the dual match tied, Jenkins was once again part of the deciding match, just as she had been in the doubles contest earlier. After dropping the opening set to Bolesky, 6-3, Jenkins stepped up as the No. 1 singles match went on. The Sarasota, Fla., native notched a decision in the second set, 6-4 before earning the team win for the Lady Flames with a 7-5 final set.
On the Lady Flames' victory, head coach Chris Johnson remarked, "All year the girls have shown the fight, determination and character it takes to be a champion. Over and over they have stepped it up when they needed it the most. I couldn't be more proud of them!"
The Lady Flames wrap up regular-season play this week with two matches. The team travels to James Madison, Tuesday, for a 2 p.m. match before completing its Big South schedule on Saturday when they visit UNC Asheville in an 11 a.m. match.
Liberty 4, Coastal Carolina 3
1. J. Jenkins/Fick (LU) def. Bolesky/Kristofersson (CCU) 9-7
2. Bunea/Mortlock (CCU) def. Richard/Sheeran (LU) 8-3
3. Lobel/Klintsevich (LU) def. Brooksbank/Kowal (CCU) 8-3
1. J. Jenkins (LU) def. Bolesky (CCU) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
2. Bunea (CCU) def. Fick (LU) 6-3, 7-6
3. Richard (LU) def. Kowal (CCU) 6-3, 4-6, 6-1
4. Sheeran (LU) def. Kristofersson (CCU) 7-5, 6-1
5. Mortlock (CCU) def. Lobel (LU) 6-4, 7-5
6. Hesketh (CCU) def. Domenech (LU) 6-3, 7-6