DENVER – No. 1 BYU-Hawaii women's tennis dropped a closely contested 5-3 match to defending champions No. 3 Armstrong State in the NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Championships on Saturday at the Regency Athletic Complex.
Armstrong State (32-1) has won the Championship seven times in the last nine years. The Seasiders (25-1) are 7-time national champions who have not taken home the top prize since 2007. It was the third meeting in the last five title matches between the two schools.
Nicole Fossa Huergo and Lena Pacholski took a 7-3 lead over Kanela Adamson and Jade Griffin on court three. Trailing 40-0 in the final game, the Seasiders double-faulted to give Armstrong State the first doubles match of the day.
Aggression at the net led to early errors for No. 1 doubles Nannan (Dallas) Zhang and Xin (Summer) Wen and they fell behind 3-0 to No. 3 Lena Lutzeier and Diana Stomlega. They found their groove and controlled the aggression to secure the next five game points, before grabbing the 8-5 triumph.
No. 10 partners Min (Karen) Liu and Shu-Ying (Suzie) Hsieh battled Alejandra Cisneros and Carolina Prats-Millan in long-winded points before tying 2-2 early on. BYU-Hawaii advanced with five uninterrupted games to end victorious in their 8-3 match and take the overall 2-1 lead after doubles play.
Pacholski recorded the first singles win of the day when she defeated Griffin in a swift 6-1, 6-2 match. No. 44 Prats-Millan and No. 46 Hsieh played a seesaw match until Prats-Millan ended it 6-4, 6-3 to put Armstrong State ahead 3-2 overall. No. 20 Wen battled back and forth, but dropped four consecutive games to No. 9 Cisneros, allowing the Pirates to claim the 6-3, 6-4 victory and extend their lead.
No. 7 Liu and No. 6 Fossa Huergo traded points to give the Seasiders a 6-4 first set victory. Liu was trailing 5-2 in the second, but she ignited for five straight games to win 7-5.
Jeong-Min Jeon capitalized on the cramping that Stomlega was experiencing to take the first set 6-1. Stomlega answered back in the second set and shut out Jeon 6-0. Armstrong State took a 3-0 edge in the third set until Jeon closed the gap to 4-3. She was unable to hold on to it as Stomlega ended the tiebreaker 6-3 to keep the Pirates' national title.
No. 1 Zhang took an early 3-1 lead in the first set, but struggled to serve in the next game, giving away the point and allowing No. 4 Lutzeier the momentum to gain a 4-3 advantage. Zhang tied it then a backhand by Lutzeier went into the net to put BYU-Hawaii ahead 5-4 before Zhang ended it 6-4. Lutzeier retaliated with a 6-2 defeat in set two to send them into a third. With nearly every game going to deuce, Lutzeier grabbed the 4-3 edge, but they did not finish as the victory was secured on court five.