JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A long match in the afternoon heat that lasted roughly five hours fell in Lenoir-Rhyne's (16-3, 6-2 SAC) favor Saturday afternoon as Carson-Newman (9-8, 5-4 SAC) was unable to beat the Bears falling 4-3 at Mossy Creek.
"The good thing from today is we certainly know we should have beaten them today," Head coach Jim Frederick said. "Which means we can beat them when we probably play them in two weeks, in the quarterfinals of the conference."
Doubles were unsuccessful for the ladies as each duo were denied a win by the Bears. Hannah Price (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Abby Reis (Des Moines, IA) fell to Diana Babinets and Gemma Southwick 6-3 at the No. 2 position while Alisa Liashova (Ukraine) and Claire Smith (Lexington, Ky.) dropped their match against Lucy Whelan and Sanne Janssen 6-4 at No. 3. With the doubles point finished in the Bears favor, the No. 1 duo of Ali Harris (Crossville, Tenn.) and Ana Carla Resende (Minas Gerais, Brazil) was taken into an intense tiebreaker against Emily Murchlands and Marta Funes. The duos rallied in long points where the slightest misstep put the ball in the wrong place resulting in the other to jump on the ball like a chicken on a June bug. Resende commanded play at the net with well-placed volleys that painted the lines and Harris put her serves precisely where she meant to trip up the Bears, but ultimately, the Eagles were unable to come out on top and fell in the tiebreaker 7-6 (7-4).
"We just didn't play like it had any importance to it," Coach Frederick said. "We've got to figure out a way to figure that out because we figured whoever won the doubles point would win."
With the Bears up 1-0 after doubles, the Eagles had to show up and show out in singles play if they wanted to get the win. Harris, Klara Vuckovic (Germany) and Liashova were the first Eagles to hit the courts. Harris fell behind at No. 2 singles in her first set against Babinets 4-3, but fought her way back and won 7-5, 6-2 to put the Eagles on the board and tie the score at 1-1.
"It was good to see Ali play well," Frederick said. "That was a big match. After losing the doubles we had to win one of those matches and I'm glad she won, for a lot of reasons."
Despite being up 3-0 in her second set with a chance to take it to a third, Vuckovic was unable to come out on top. She fell against Whelan at the No. 6 position and fell 6-4, 6-3 giving the lead back to the Bears. Liashova dropped her first set to Funes 6-2 but rallied in the second to win in tiebreak fashion 7-6 (8-6) to force the match into a third set. Losing her groove however, she was unable to get a single game in the third and fell 6-0 to push L-R's lead to 3-1 overall.
With Resende, Reis, and Price left to play the Eagles needed flawless three matches to finish out the day and get the win. Price jumped ahead and held off Ally Garofoli in the first set winning it 6-2 at No. 3 while Resende did the same against Southwick at No. 1 winning her first 6-3. Both of the two finished with wins as Price won her second set 6-4 and Resende won her second 6-0.
With the match tied 3-3, all eyes turned to Reis' court as it came down to the victor of her match against Janssen. The two played for what seemed like ages out in the heat and everyone could feel the tension. The first set went into a tiebreaker with Reis coming out on top 7-6 (7-4). The second set also went into a tiebreaker that went back and forth multiple times keeping everyone in the crowd on edge. Janssen quite possibly set the record for the most consecutive sky-high lobs in a single match during the second set as her game-plan seemed to keep things high and slow forcing Reis to be patient and make her own mistakes. There was a method to the madness and proved to be too much for Reis as Janssen won the second set 7-6 (11-9) and then the third 6-1 to claim the match.
The loss was a tough one to swallow for the Eagles. If they had won, they would have moved up to No. 4 in league standings ahead of L-R and would have had the chance to host the conference tournament.
"If we beat them, we go to the semifinals of the conference," Frederick said. "So, I mean, I guess if you had to win one out of the two, the best one to win would be the second one."
The Eagles will be back in action in a non-conference match Sunday afternoon against Spartanburg Methodist at home at 1 p.m. For more updates, results, and information check back on cneagles.com.
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