Seasiders outlast Lions for championship berth

Min (Karen) Liu during her 6-2 third set victory.
Min (Karen) Liu during her 6-2 third set victory.

DENVER – No. 1 BYU-Hawaii women's tennis held off a furious comeback to defeat No. 2 Saint Leo 5-3 in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Championships on Friday at the Gates Tennis Center.

"[Saint Leo] was a very good team," BYU-Hawaii head coach Dave Porter said. "We played much better in doubles than the first two days and that was important in today's match to get the 2-1 lead. We started well in singles, but went through a little lull. I'm glad we picked it back enough in the end to get the win. We will need to be even better to win tomorrow. "

With the match hanging in the balance. No. 7 Min (Karen) Liu and No. 46 Shu-Ying (Suzie) Hsieh headed to a third set to try and secure the clinching point for the Seasiders (25-0). Liu and No. 10 Isabella Robbiani traded games in the first set until Liu closed out winning three of the final four games for a 6-4 set victory. Robbiani bounced back with a strong 6-1 win in the second set. With the third set tied 2-2, Liu came through in the clutch to take the final four games for a 6-2 win to secure the match for her team.

The Seasiders started the day out strong in doubles as No. 10 Liu and Hsieh began with a back-and-forth match against Natalia Siedliska and Coralie Pesenti, but three consecutive game points gave them the lead to secure an 8-4 victory for the Seasiders. No. 1 doubles Xin (Summer) Wen and Nannan (Dallas) Zhang added an 8-3 match moments later over Anastasia Wagner and Robbiani of Saint Leo (23-3).

The Lions recorded their first win of the day in No. 3 doubles. Marine Beugre-Guyot and Pauline Helgesson led Jade Griffin and Kanela Adamson 6-2 before the Seasiders came back and closed the gap 7-6, but it was not enough as Saint Leo took the next game, winning 8-6.

No. 1 Zhang continued her momentum into singles play. In the second set, No. 5 Siedliska took the first two games, but Zhang answered back with six straight to secure a 6-2, 6-2 victory. No. 20 Wen and No. 16 Beugre-Guyot traded points in the first set before a strong second set by Wen gave BYU-Hawaii a 6-3, 6-1 win.

Helgesson claimed the Lions' first singles point in her 6-3, 6-0 match over Jeong-Min Jeon on court five. Griffin and Gauthier fought back and forth in a tight first set, but Gauthier was able to win the match 7-6, 6-3 and bring Saint Leo within one match of BYU-Hawaii at 4-3.

BYU-Hawaii will face No. 3 Armstrong State for the NCAA championship Saturday at 9 a.m. MDT at the Regency Athletic Complex. Live stats and video will be available online. 

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