No. 1 seed Charleston Southern ousted No. 4 seed Liberty, 4-2, in the Big South Women's Tennis Championship semifinals on Friday afternoon. The two squads met on March 21 when the Bucs won the doubles point but surrendered the match when Liberty rallied in singles play to win, 4-3. Today's match saw a role reversal as the Lady Flames clawed for the doubles point but fell in singles action, allowing Charleston Southern to win 4-2 and advance to tomorrow's Big South Championship match.
With the loss, Liberty concludes the season with a 19-5 overall record while Charleston Southern improves to 17-2. The Lady Flames set a new program record for single-season victories.
The Lady Flames captured the doubles point after two come-from-behind victories. Maria Khval and Brittany Yang went toe-to-toe with Angelica Sidorenko and Mi'Kola Cooper before claiming their first lead at 7-6. With match point on the line, Yang sent a serve into the left side of the frame, out of the reach of Sidorenko, for the 8-6 victory to begin doubles play.
Just two courts away on court three, Emily Groeneveld and Mariely Hassey were deadlocked in a tight match. After reclaiming the lead at 6-5, the duo traded victories with Marketa Placha and Sophie Cloessner to maintain a one point lead at 7-6. After the 14th game was evened at deuce, Hassey and Groeneveld claimed two straight points with Groeneveld slamming the door shut on the Bucs' hopes of snatching the doubles point. The duo bested the No. 3 Charleston Southern doubles tandem, 8-6 to claim the early 1-0 Liberty lead.
Charleston Southern wasted no time in evening the match at one apiece. Placha, the 2015 Big South Women's Tennis Player of the Year, bested Hassey in straight sets, 6-0, 6-0 from the No. 1 singles spot.
Liberty reclaimed the lead after Khval notched a straight set victory from the No. 3 singles position. The Belarus native bested Sidorenko, 6-3, 6-1 to regain the 2-1 lead for the red and blue.
Charleston Southern received a 6-4, 6-1 victory from Valeria Koussenkova as the Spain native evened the contest at 2-2.
The Bucs claimed the very next match when Yvonne Hubler bested Rivera in three sets, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to take a 3-2 lead for Charleston Southern.
The Bucs received their third consecutive singles victory when Sophie Cloessner defeated Yang in three sets, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 to claim the 4-2 victory.
"I couldn't be more proud of the girls right now as they played as hard as they could and left everything on the court," commented head coach Jeff Maren. "Today was simply Charleston Southern's day and it was a war, very similar to the one we won at home in March. My congratulations to coach Mike Baker and his girls for winning today. The future looks bright for our program and we are improving every year, inching closer to our goals."
Charleston Southern 4, Liberty 2