FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Playing its first home match of the season, the Northern Arizona women's tennis team could not defeat their longtime nemesis, No. 71 Sacramento State, despite close play throughout the match. The two teams came into the match tied atop the Big Sky standings with a 3-0 conference record, but the Lumberjacks were unable to get their first win over the 10-time defending conference champions since 2001, falling 6-1 to the nationally-ranked Hornets on Sunday at Continental Country Club.
"We didn't get blown off the court," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "We had opportunities to win. We won at No. 3 doubles and at No. 2 we just figured it out a little too late. In singles, Malia (Wahinepio) and Nicole (Perez) had some opportunities and Johanna (Vang) won. The good thing is we can change a couple of things and the girls are willing to do that."
After the Hornets got a win at No. 1 doubles, juniors Ghizelene Doballah and Alice Pacaut evened the doubles score at one apiece with an 8-2 win at No. 3. The doubles point would come down to No. 2, where NAU's freshmen tandem of Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang battled back from a 6-1 deficit, taking three straight games to close within 6-4. However, Sacramento State's duo of Clarisse Baca and Maria Meliuk halted the NAU run there, winning the last two games to give the Hornets the 1-0 lead in the match.
Sacramento State's Tatsiana Kapshai, the two-time reigning Big Sky MVP, took down Doballah at No. 1 to begin singles play and the Hornets continued with wins at No. 6 and 2 to seal the match. Vang would get the Lumberjacks on the board with her team-leading sixth singles win this season at No. 5, following another Hornet win at No. 4, before Sacramento State closed out the match with a win at No. 3.
"In some of our matches, we almost wanted it too much," Bruno said. "We were going for too much and we didn't settle in and play our game. Emotionally, physically and mentally we need to come out a little differently next time."
The Lumberjacks still sit in second place in the conference despite the loss, with a 3-1 Big Sky record halfway through the conference season. Sunday's match was the first of five straight home matches for the Lumberjacks this season, and they'll return to their home court on Saturday at 11 a.m. against New Mexico.
2. Clarisse Baca/Maria Meliuk (SAC) def. Hannah Stone/Johanna Vang (NAU), 8-4*
3. Ghizelene Doballah/Alice Pacaut (NAU) def. Katharina Knoebl/Sophie Lohscheidt, 8-2
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (1, 3, 2)
1. Kapshai (SAC) def. Doballah (NAU), 6-3, 6-0
2. Baca (SAC) def. Stone (NAU), 6-1, 6-4**
3. Delgado (SAC) def. Wahinepio (NAU), 7-5, 6-4
4. Lohscheidt (SAC) def. Perez (NAU), 6-2, 6-3
5. Vang (NAU) def. Knoebl (SAC), 6-1, 6-2
6. Meliuk (SAC) def. Pacaut (NAU), 6-1, 6-2
Order of Finish: (1, 6, 2, 4, 5, 3)