FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – No. 54 Sacramento State claimed the doubles point and won five singles matches to claim the Big Sky regular season title and hand Northern Arizona its first conference loss of the season with a 6-1 victory. The Hornets finished the regular season at 17-6 and 8-0 in the Big Sky, securing the top seed for next week's Big Sky Championship, while NAU ends the regular season in second place in the Big Sky at 7-1 and 12-6 overall.
The Lumberjacks will face third-seeded Montana in the semifinals of the Big Sky Championship next Saturday, April 24, at 10 a.m. in Sacramento. The Hornets will take on fourth-seeded Montana State after the Bobcats beat Eastern Washington, 4-3, on Saturday to earn the last spot in the tournament.
"They came out strong and put us on the defensive right away and we had to figure out a way to neutralize it," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "The girls have shown all season that they can make adjustments during their matches, which they did again today. I think we can take a lot from this match and learn from it."
NAU had to play without injured junior Orsi Golovics again on Saturday, as the Lumberjacks tried new doubles pairs and had to play again with an adjusted singles lineup. Freshman Ana Mendes played her first match of the season at No. 1 doubles, teaming with junior Yumi Hasegawa in an 8-2 defeat. Junior Aimee Oki and freshman Nicole Perez battled for an 8-7 win at No. 3, but an 8-5 victory for the Hornets at No. 2 gave Sacramento State the first point of the match.
Oki would be the lone NAU winner in singles with an impressive 6-3, 6-3 win over Sacramento State's Rebeca Delgado at No. 2. At No. 3, freshman Malia Wahinepio forced a third set before bowing to Hornet sophomore Maria Meliuk, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4. The Hornets would claim the other-four singles match in straight-sets, though freshman Alice Walker forced a second-set tiebreak in a 6-3, 7-6 loss at No. 6.
Northern Arizona defeated Montana, 6-1, in Flagstaff on March 5. The teams met in the opening round of the Big Sky Championship last season, with NAU claiming a 4-0 victory.