Soares, a junior, won in three sets (6-4, 0-6, 6-3) on Saturday at Virginia Tech.
Liberty Lady Flames women's tennis could not sustain a strong start in a 5-2 loss to Virginia Tech, Saturday at the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center.
After Liberty claimed the doubles point in thrilling fashion, host Virginia Tech won five of the six contested singles matches in straight sets en route to the victory. The Hokies improve to 5-0 in 2018, while Liberty drops to 4-4 and sees its four-match winning streak end.
"We played good doubles today and displayed the energy needed to compete with a team like Virginia Tech. But we didn't sustain that energy going into singles, so our opponents jumped on us early and we couldn't recover," said Liberty Women's Tennis Head Coach Jeff Maren. "We'll learn from this match and use it to prepare for our next one. To God be the glory."
Liberty's singles victory came on court four from junior Lara Soares, who was a 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 winner over Nika Kozar. The Sobradinho, Brazil, native has now won four consecutive singles battles, with the last two coming in three sets.
The Hokies appeared to be on their way to winning the doubles point before Liberty stormed back to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Virginia Tech's No. 3 tandem of Nika Kozar and Nina Sorkin led throughout their match against Liberty's Rebekah Anderson and Grace Hashiguchi in a 6-4 victory. The loss was the Lady Flames duo's first of the season (4-1).
On court one, Liberty's Anna Dollar and Evangeline Crist built a 5-1 lead on Virginia Tech's top duo, Caroline Daxhelet and Natalie Novotna. The Hokies' No. 1 pairing tightened the gap to 5-4. With Crist serving, the Lady Flames finished the match. Following her serve, Crist ripped a forehand winner down the line. Her partner, Dollar, capped off the match with two forehanded smashes from the front of the net, closing out a 6-4 triumph. Crist and Dollar remain unbeaten (3-0) in the spring.
Meanwhile, on court two, Liberty's Maria Medina and Lara Soares trailed, 5-3, in their match with Sarah Baron and Elena Cerezo-Codina. Medina and Soares took the next game to make it 5-4 and led, 40-0, in the next game. Baron and Elena Cerezo-Codina forced a deuce point and match point, won by the Lady Flames.
Liberty comfortably captured the next game to go ahead, 6-5. Tied 15-15, Soares used a soft touch from in front of the net to perfectly place a ball out of reach of both Hokies. On the next point, Medina chased down a Hokie shot and lofted it back over the net. The subsequent Virginia Tech volley sailed wide, giving Liberty its first match point opportunity at 40-15.
Following a Soares serve, Medina blasted an unreturnable volley from in front of the net past both Baron and Cerezo-Codina. The Lady Flames duo's 7-5 victory, their fourth of the spring and eighth of the season, made it 1-0 in favor of Liberty.
The Hokies seized control in the singles session from the onset, winning five of the six first sets. Daxhelet was the first Virginia Tech competitor to close out her match, knocking off Liberty's Ashley Bongart (6-2, 6-1) in straight sets to even the match at 1-1.
The hosts' Novotna, the 34th-ranked singles player in the country, then defeated the Lady Flames' Medina (6-3, 6-1) in the No. 1 singles showdown. A few minutes later, Cerezo-Codina earned a straight-sets victory (6-2, 6-2) against Dollar on court number three. The Spain native's victory brought Virginia Tech within a point (3-1) of overall victory.
On the other side of the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center, Sorkin outlasted Liberty's Polina Miroshnichenko, 6-2, 6-2 for the match-clinching fourth point on court six.
The No. 5 singles bout saw the Hokies' Katherine Butler upend the Lady Flames' Crist in two sets (6-2, 6-3).
Soares' victory against Kozar settled the final score at 5-2, Virginia Tech. Soares' narrow 6-4 first-set did not faze Kozar, who dominated set two, 6-0. In the decisive third set, Soares took four of the final games. Up 5-3 and tied 30-30, she ended the match with two aggressive plays. On the first, she came to the net at the same time as Kozar and sent a volley into an open court. The Brazil native won the match on an overhead smash down the baseline.
Liberty's next match will be a home bout against the unbeaten James Madison Dukes (6-0), next Saturday at 10 a.m.
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