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Hokies Slide Past Lady Flames, Friday
The Liberty women's tennis team forced four singles matches into a deciding third set, Friday night, but an experienced No. 62 Virginia Tech team claimed a 5-2 win, at Lynchburg's Sports Racket.
The loss drops the Lady Flames to 1-4, while Virginia Tech improves to 7-2 after its first road victory of 2012.
Liberty opened doubles play strongly, gaining advantages in the No. 1 and No. 3 matches, 5-4 and 5-2, respectively. However, the Hokies used rallies to overtake the Lady Flames, en route to the doubles sweep and a 1-0 lead early in the match.
It appeared as if Liberty had swung momentum in its favor early in singles play, as three Lady Flames claimed their opening sets. Once again, an upperclassmen-laden visiting squad responded to steal back the match's momentum.
The Hokies claimed each of the first three singles matches to go final (No. 4, No. 1, No. 2) to secure the team victory.
Freshman Nicola Wellman posted the first point of the evening in the No. 5 slot for the Lady Flames, as she won her second consecutive singles match. The Spring Hill, Fla., native upended Katie Blow in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Sophomore Jessie Boda then notched her first collegiate dual victory in the No. 6 match, after being entered in the lineup by head coach Chris Johnson. Despite Hokie Megan Conley claiming the first set, 6-4, Boda fought back to square the match by taking the second set, 6-2. With the overall match already decided, the final set used tiebreak scoring, with Boda coming out on top, 11-9.
The No. 3 match was the last to go final on the evening, taking nearly three hours to decide a victor. Reigning Big South Player of the Week Rebekah Jenkins claimed the first set, 7-5, but Carol Kahoun tied the match with a 6-2 second set. The deciding set also needed extra games, as Kahoun claimed the Hokies' final team point, winning the final set 7-5.
"Hats off to Virginia Tech," expressed Johnson. "We brought some good tennis tonight and they hung tough. I was really proud to see our young team continue to improve and compete strong."
The Lady Flames begin Big South Conference play next week when the team's schedule picks up pace considerably. The team will play three road matches in a span of six days, beginning on Feb. 25, after playing five matches in a three-week span to open the season. Liberty will face Charleston Southern (Feb. 24) and Coastal Carolina (Feb. 25) on one road trip, before taking on Radford (Feb. 29) several days later.
No. 62 Virginia Tech 5, Liberty 2
1. Betts/Blow (VT) def. Sheeran/Jenkins (LU), 9-8
2. Lauten/Rauscher (VT) def. Richard/Wellman (LU), 8-4
3. Conley/Kahoun (VT) def. Lobel/Boda (LU), 8-6
1. Betts (VT) def. Sheeran (LU), 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
2. Rauscher (VT) def. Richard (LU), 7-6, 6-2
3. Kahoun (VT) def. Jenkins (LU), 5-7, 6-2, 7-5
4. Lauten (VT) def. Lobel (LU), 6-3, 6-2
5. Wellman (LU) def. Blow (VT), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
6. Boda (LU) def. Conley (VT), 6-4, 2-6, 11-9