The Liberty Lady Flames tennis squad fell to VCU by a score of 4-3 on Friday afternoon at the Cook Tennis Center. The Rams defeated the Lady Flames despite trailing 3-1 at one point.
With the loss, Liberty falls to 3-4 on the season with VCU improving to 2-4 on the campaign.
The Lady Flames outlasted the Rams in pursuit of the doubles point, despite dropping the first doubles match. After Evangeline Crist and Valerie Thong fell in the No. 1 spot, 6-2, Liberty rallied to claim the doubles point, winning from the No. 2 and No. 3 doubles positions. The freshman duo of Rebekah Anderson and Aleksandra Panchenko evened the doubles score at 1-1 following their 7-5 victory from the No. 3 slot over Sofia Segerfors and Yana Morar.
Anna Dollar and Maria Khval captured the doubles point for the Lady Flames after rattling off three straight games to win their match 6-4 over Anna Rasmussen and Janina Braun. Dollar and Khval were ahead 5-4 but down 40-15 in the 10th game. The dynamic duo rallied to tie the frame at 40-40 before Dollar lobbed a shot over the outstretched arms of Rasmussen to win the doubles match and provide Liberty with the 1-0 lead.
VCU's Janina Braun knotted the contest at one apiece following her straight set victory over Emily Groeneveld, 6-3, 6-0 from the No. 5 singles slot.
Liberty regained the lead when Khval and Dollar finished simultaneously from the No. 1 and No. 4 singles positions. Khval bested the No. 83 ranked player in the ITA rankings, Olga Barshcheuskaya, in straight sets by a score of 6-3, 6-4. Immediately following Khval's triumph, Dollar finished off Darya Berezhnaya in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4. The victories provided the Lady Flames with a 3-1 cushion.
Despite the early lead, Liberty couldn't hold off the surging Rams. Segerfors defeated Panchenko in straight sets 7-6(5), 6-1, starting the rally for VCU from the No. 6 singles position.
Down 3-2, freshman Rasmussen pulled the Rams even with the Lady Flames from the No. 2 singles spot, defeating Rivera in three sets. Rasmussen claimed the first set 6-1 and then dropped the second set by the same score. Rasmussen and Rivera duked it out in the third set, matching each other game for game. However, it was Rasmussen who pulled away in the end 7-5 to even the score at three apiece.
VCU claimed the match from the No. 3 singles position in similar fashion as Magda Aubets bested Crist in three sets. The Liberty sophomore cruised through the first set, winning 6-1. Aubets maintained composure and rallied back to win the second and third sets, 6-3, 6-2, to give the Rams the 4-3 victory.
"We kind of let this one slip away, and against a good team like VCU we have to play at a high level throughout," stated head coach Jeff Maren. "The girls fought hard and played hard, but we just need to play a little better on the pressure moments because in this type of match it comes down to who playes best in a hand full of points. Today we came up just a little short in this area. We will learn and grow from this and it will certainly help to prepare us for an equally good North Texas team."
The Lady Flames return to action on Sunday at 11 a.m. when they host No. 73 North Texas. The contest is slated to be played at the Cook Tennis Center but may be moved into the Sports Racket due to inclement weather.
VCU 4, Liberty 3 Doubles