Liberty women's tennis picked up its fourth straight Big South Conference victory with a 7-0 triumph over visiting UNC Asheville, Friday at the Cook Tennis Center.
The Lady Flames improve to 10-7 and a perfect 4-0 in the Big South, while Asheville is now 9-7 overall and 2-3 in the conference with the setback.
Liberty dropped only one set on the afternoon in its fifth 7-0 victory of the season and second 7-0 win in Big South play (other was Campbell, March 15). The Lady Flames are now 7-1 on their home courts, this season.
The Lady Flames, who have now won the last eight meetings with the Bulldogs, claimed the doubles put in convincing fashion, sweeping the Bulldogs to go ahead, 1-0, in the match.
On court two, the Lady Flames' Maria Medina and Lara Soares never trailed in winning their match, 6-1, against Asheville's No. 2 pairing of Christin Louw and Emily Sidor.
The No. 3 Liberty duo of Rebekah Anderson and Grace Hashiguchi defeated Asheville's Taylor Love and Amalie Davidsen, 6-1, to clinch the doubles point. Anderson and Hashiguchi are now a team-best 9-2 in spring doubles.
Liberty's No. 1 duo on Friday, Evangeline Crist and Anna Dollar had to battle back from a 5-4 deficit to Kylee Shipley and Hannah Francisco. The Liberty pairing took the lead at 6-5, but the Bulldogs' pairing forced a tiebreaker by winning the next game.
Knotted at 5-5 in the tiebreaker, Crist and Dollar took the next two points to win, 7-6 (5), and sweep the doubles session for the Lady Flames. Crist, the senior captain, now has 89 career doubles victories and is just two away from passing Valerie Thong (90 wins, 2013-16) for the most in program history.
In singles, Dollar dominated her match against Madeline Finley of Asheville, as she did not drop a game in the two-set victory (6-0, 6-0) on court six. Her victory made it 2-0, Lady Flames.
The next three matches to finish all did so within less than two minutes of each other. Liberty's No. 1 singles player Ashley Bongart defeated No. 1 Kylee Shipley, 6-1, 6-1 to make it 3-0 in favor of Liberty. Bongart's victory was her team-leading 18th singles victory of 2017-18, and she is 6-1 in the No. 1 spot in the spring.
Shortly after, Soares capped off another dominant victory of her own in straight sets (6-1, 6-1) versus Louw of Asheville on court three. The Sobradinho, Brazil, native's fifth straight singles triumph bolstered the home lead to 4-0 over the Bulldogs and officially won the match.
Seconds later, Soares' doubles partner Medina knocked off her challenger, Emily Sidor, in the No. 2 singles bout, 6-1, 6-3.
Crist took the first set from Love, 6-2, on court five. The two were even at 4-4 in the second set before the Liberty senior captured the final two games and the match, 6-2, 6-4, making it 6-0 Liberty.
Lady Flames freshman Polina Miroshnichenko struggled in her first set against Davidsen (6-1 loss), but she bounced back in taking the second, 6-3, which set up a third-set 10-point tiebreaker. Locked in an 8-8 tie, Miroshnichenko scored the next point and then won on a Davidsen shot that sailed into the net.
The Moscow, Russia, native's comeback 1-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8) decision was Liberty's seventh point of the day in the shutout victory.
The Lady Flames will be back on their home courts on Saturday for a doubleheader. Liberty (10-7, 4-0 Big South) and Winthrop (12-4, 6-0 Big South) will do battle at 10 a.m., with first-place implications on the line. At 3 p.m., the Lady Flames will host the Roanoke Maroons (8-1, 3-1 ODAC) in non-conference action at the Cook Tennis Center.