CHENEY, Wash. – Northern Arizona improved to 6-0 in the Big Sky and clinched at least a second-place finish in the conference with a 5-2 victory over Eastern Washington on Saturday morning in Cheney. The Lumberjacks, who rallied from first-set losses to win three singles matches, kept pace with undefeated Sacramento State atop the Big Sky standings and improved to 11-5 overall while Eastern Washington dropped to 10-9 overall and 4-3 in conference play.
If the Lumberjacks can defeat winless Portland State on Monday, they will equal Sacramento State at 7-0 in conference play. The two teams will meet next Saturday in Flagstaff to conclude the regular season.
In Saturday's match, NAU shuffled its doubles lineup with junior Orsi Golovics still sidelined with an ankle injury and picked up a pair of victories to claim the doubles point. Junior Aimee Oki and freshman Nicole Perez picked up an 8-6 win at No. 2 after NAU dropped a match at No. 1. Junior Edit Suhajda paired with freshman Malia Wahinepio for the first time this season and the duo claimed an 8-2 win at No. 3 to give the Lumberjacks the early lead.
Singles play was extremely competitive, with five of six matches going three sets. Suhajda rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win over Cailtlin Bampton at No. 1, while Oki earned her first-career win at No. 2 in a 1-6, 6-3, 6-0 decision. Wahinepio also rallied back from a first-set loss in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory at No. 3 and Perez concluded the NAU scoring with a three-set win at No. 5. Junior Yumi Hasegawa played at No. 4 for the first time this season but dropped a 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 decision to EWU's Chelsea Patton to end an 11-match winning streak.
The Lumberjacks will continue their road trip on Sunday with a non-conference match at Gonzaga at 3 p.m.