Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sac State wins thriller for 13th straight Big Sky title

   GOLD RIVER, Calif. -- The Sacramento State women already lost one amazing streak this year.
   Olivia Boija didn't want to make it two.
   Saving two match points in the deciding contest, the Swedish sophomore edged Laurence Pelchat of Montana 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5) at No. 4 singles on Sunday. That gave the Hornets their 13th consecutive title in the Big Sky Conference Championships and an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships.
   While Boija's teammates stormed the court to celebrate the third-seeded Hornets' pulsating 4-3 victory over the top-seeded Grizzlies at the Gold River Racquet Club, Pelchat repeatedly flung her racket in disgust.
   Depleted by injuries two weeks ago, Sac State suffered its first conference loss in 13 years. The Hornets fell to Montana 4-3 in Missoula, Mont., ending the Hornets' Big Sky-record conference winning streak at 112 matches. In the decider, Sac State freshman Deimante Bulatovaite of Lithuania had three match points in a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (6) loss to Ashley Mackey at No. 5 singles.
   Sac State, with an all-international lineup, turned it around this time.
   "It means a lot since we were winning (the Big Sky tournament) 12 years in a row," said Boija (pronounced BOY-ya). "We wanted to continue the streak, and I know how hard the girls were fighting. Since we lost the (conference match) winning streak, it was revenge for us."
   As if Sac State needed additional incentive, the men's streak of Big Sky tournament titles ended at five on Saturday with a 4-1 loss to top-seeded Weber State. Second-seeded Montana routed the Wildcats 4-0 on Sunday for the championship.
  The Sac State women regained the services of Katharina Knoebl, a senior from Austria who won at No. 2 doubles and No. 6 singles. However, No. 1 singles player Jennifer Nguyen remains out after tearing two ligaments and the meniscus in her right knee during a match one month ago. The sophomore from Australia underwent surgery and attended Sunday's matches with a brace on her leg.
   Boija survived match points with Pelchat -- a junior from Quebec, Canada, who had beaten Boija 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in Missoula -- serving at 5-4, 40-15 in the third set.
   "Tennis is so mental," Boija observed. "I just tried to play my normal game. If you think she has match points, you're going to feel the pressure. I tried to ignore it."
   Boija also fell behind 3-1 in the tiebreaker before reeling off five consecutive points. She converted her third match point with a runaround forehand passing shot.
   "I was really nervous (at 6-3 in the tiebreaker)," she conceded. "You know you only need one more point. I tried to ignore it, but it was hard. On the last one, I said, 'You just have to finish.' It was all up to me. She wasn't going to take any chances."
   Sac State (12-16) will learn its opponent for the NCAA Championships, which begin May 9 at sites around the country, when the bracket is announced Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. PDT. Montana ended its season at 16-8.
   See below for full results of Sunday's match.
   Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif. -- Top-seeded Kristie Ahn and Carol Zhao of Stanford lost to unseeded Kaitlyn Christian and Giuliana Olmos of USC 6-3, 6-3 Sunday in the women's doubles final. Christian, a senior from Orange, won the crown for the third straight time, pairing with Sabrina Santamaria in 2012 and 2013.
   Olmos, a junior from Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area, also won the invitational singles title with a 6-1, 6-2 decision over Klara Fabikova of Cal. Olmos was seeded third and Fabikova fifth.
   Unseeded Kassidy Jump, a freshman from Granite Bay in the Sacramento area, and Joanna Smith of Arizona State took the women's invitational doubles title. They topped third-seeded Brynn Boren and Zoe Scandalis of USC 8-6.
   Fifth-ranked UCLA knocked off No. 1 USC 4-2 for the men's championship.
   USTA Pro Circuit in Charlottesville, Va. -- Top-seeded Irina Falconi and Maria Sanchez, who was born and raised in Modesto, lost to second-seeded Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend 6-3, 6-1 in the final of the $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Clay Court Classic.
   Muhammad and Townsend played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals in World TeamTennis.
   Townsend also won the singles title as a wild card, outclassing qualifier Montserrat Gonzalez of Paraguay 6-2, 6-3.
   The professional titles were the first for Townsend, who turned 18 on April 16. In 2012, she became the first American in 30 years to hold the year-end No. 1 world ranking in junior girls singles.
   Sanchez continued to struggle in singles, falling to Elitsa Kostova of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-1 in the first round.
At Gold River Racquet Club
Women's final
Sacramento State 4, Montana 3
   1. Olivia Boija-Sophie Lohscheidt (SAC) vs. Haley Driver-Precious Gbadamosi 6-5, unfinished.
   2. Katharina Knoebl-Daria Savchenko (SAC) def. Sasha Carter-Laurence Pelchat 8-3.
   3. Diamante Bulatovaite-Alina Soltanici (SAC) def. Anabel Carbo Estruch-Ashley Mackey 8-4.
   1. Daria Savchenko (SAC) def. Haley Driver 7-6 (5), 6-2.
   2. Precious Gbadamosi (UM) def. Alina Soltanici 7-5, 1-6, 6-1.
   3. Sasha Carter (UM) def. Sophie Lohschiedt 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
   4. Olivia Boija (SAC) def. Laurence Pelchat 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5).
   5. Ashley Mackey (UM) def. Diamante Bulatovaite 6-3, 6-3.
   6. Katharina Knoebl (SAC) def. Maddy Murray 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. 
   Order of finish: Doubles (2, 3); singles (5, 1, 2, 6, 3, 4).

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