By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
TACOMA, Wash. -- Willamette University rallied from deficits in all three doubles matches to claim three wins, including a huge comeback at #1 doubles, setting the stage for the Bearcats to defeat Pacific Lutheran University, 7-2, in a Northwest Conference women's tennis match on Sunday, March 11. The Bearcats improved to 4-4 on the season and to 1-3 in the NWC. It was Willamette's first NWC victory since the Bearcats downed University of Puget Sound, 6-3, on April 4, 2015. PLU fell to 2-8 overall, 1-3 in the NWC.
Prior to Sunday's triumph, the Bearcats had three wins against NWC opponents this season, but all three were in non-conference play. The NWC has switched from 12 conference matches per season to a single round-robin of eight matches this year. To make up the difference, NWC teams have played non-conference games against each other, too. Willamette's score on Sunday was the same as the Bearcats' 7-2 win over the Lutes in non-conference action on Feb. 3.
WU also defeated University of Puget Sound and George Fox University by 7-2 margins in non-conference play. Puget Sound avenged it's earlier loss by defeating the Bearcats, 7-2, on Saturday, March 10, after winning four three-set matches in singles. Willamette recovered from the loss to defeat the Lutes less than 24 hours later.
Against Pacific Lutheran on Sunday, Willamette's top doubles team of Mikaila Smith (Sr., Mill Valley, CA/Tamalpais HS) and Robin Pashek (Fr., The Dalles, OR/The Dalles-Wahtonka HS) trailed Caroline Dreher and Hannah Jeffries, 6-1 at one point. Smith and Pashek won seven consecutive games to claim an 8-6 victory in the pro-set.
Willamette also trailed early in the #2 doubles and #3 doubles matches before earning two more wins. At #2 doubles, Sarah Dean (Fr., Boise, ID/Timberline HS) and Sylvia Marr (Fr., Grants Pass, ORHidden Valley HS) outlasted Bayley Gochanour and Lauren Kearney, 9-7. At #3 doubles, Willamette's team of Siena Ginsburg (Fr., Bend, ORSummit HS) and Alexis Gjurasic (Jr., Olympia, WA/Capital HS) downed Kristi Floyd and Victoria Bolshakova, 9-7.
"Today was definitely a day of resilience," Willamette Head Coach Bryce Parmelly said. "We were down 6-1 at #1 doubles and came back to win 8-6. It was an incredible comeback by Mikaila and Robin. We were down at the start of #2 and #3 doubles and came back to win both to take the doubles sweep. It was a roller coaster of momentum in which we showed a lot of composure and won with aggressive play. I'm super proud of how we bounced back after yesterday's loss."
The Bearcats added wins at #2, #3, #4 and #5 singles to complete the solid win. Pashek won the #2 singles match against Gochanour, 6-1, 6-4. At #3 singles, Dean won for the Bearcats, 6-2, 6-3, against Floyd. Marr prevailed at #4 singles against Kearney, 6-1, 6-3. Siena Ginsburg (Fr., Bend, OR/Summit HS) took #5 singles for Willamette in match that featured one regular tie-breaker, plus a super tie-breaker played instead of a third set. Ginsberg defeated Bolshakova, 6-7 (5-7), 6-0, 10-8.
Dreher won for the Lutes at #1 singles, as she downed Smith, 6-3, 6-1. Pacific Lutheran also grabbed a win at #6 singles, as Kylie Radamacher outlasted Hannah Andres (Jr., Sammamish, WA/Skyline HS) of WU, 6-2, 6-4.
Willamette's next match is set for Saturday, March 17 against College of Idaho at the WU Tennis Courts. Match time is scheduled for 11 a.m. (PDT).