The Danes used their home court advantage and some tough competing to garner a good win over a tough Bryant squad, 5-2. The home squad took the doubles point with wins at #2 and #1. Then they capitalized in four hard-fought singles matches. The Bryant squad was a team that never gave up, even when they were down. So the Danes had to stay focused and close out the Bulldogs. Which they DID!!!
By identical 8-3 scores, first Cheryl Kukkonen and Kirsten Scott at #2, then Rocio Lopez and Livia Gherman at #1 finished off their Bulldog opponents. The Danes nearly swept the doubles, but Aubrey Brooks and Sarah Iannone came up just short, 8-6. Nonetheless, UAlbany won their first doubles point in five matches.
Winning the doubles point is usually a predictor of who will win the match. But as the three top singles started, it was apparent that the match was far from over. Bryant was giving the Danes all they could handle in each match. UA won the first set in all three, but that only got the Bulldogs more stirred up and all three of their top players fared better in the second set. In fact, Bryant took the second set at both the #2 and the #3 singles positions. Dane #1 singles player, Rocio Lopez, captured her sixth consecutive singles victory, and did it in straight sets. Scott got a bit steamed and stormed to a third set win, giving the Danes a 3-0 lead, needing only one more match for the team win. It looked like that third point was going to come from #2 singles, Gherman. But she got edged out in the second set 7-5 in the tiebreak and fell way behind in the third. Just when it looked like her match was over, Gherman charged back to tie the third set 4-4. But her opponent responded, running off two straight games for the match. 3-1 Danes.
Still one win away, UA sent their next three players on, hoping for a win somewhere. Kukkonen, after missing nearly a week with a sprained ankle, was held out of the singles lineup, so everybody moved up a spot. No problema. Brooks, playing inspired all-court singles, took it to Steph Smyers, a member of the Bulldogs #1 doubles team. The Dane senior played solidly from the backcourt, building points well and giving away few unforced errors as she got the clinching match win for her team in straight sets.
With the victory in hand for the Danes, and a long drive that evening ahead for both teams, the coaches agreed to shorten the final two matches. Freshman Fran White, who had just earned her first college victory the week before, had her hands full with a tough opponent as she dropped her pro-set, 8-0. Iannone came through with the final win on the day. She took the first set, then forced a second set tiebreak which she dropped 7-1. THe two played a 10 pt. tiebreak for the match. Iannone lost the first three points, which now meant she had lost 10 of the last 11 points. Yet she charged back and made an exciting finish. Neither player could forge a 2 pt. margin, so on they went past the 10 pt. cutoff. Finally the Dane prevailed 14-12. FINAL=5-2 to the bigger dogs!!
45 minutes later, the whole team was in the van heading to Boston in preparation for their match the next day vs. AmericaEast perennial top dog, BU.
UALBANY 5 BRYANT 2
1. Lopez-Gherman (UA) def. Smyers-Lucy Bird (B) 8-3*
2. Scott-Kukkonen (UA) def. Hidalgo-Brandao (B) 8-3
3. Ammendola-R.Bird (B) def. Brooks-Iannone (UA) 8-6
Order of finish: 2,1,3.
*Doubles point clincher.
1. Rocio Lopez (UA) def. Claudia Hidalgo (B) 6-3,6-4
2. Devlin Ammendola (B) def. Livia Gherman (UA) 3-6,7-6(5), 6-4
3. Kirsten Scott (UA) def. Marcela Brandao (B) 6-4,1-6,6-2
4. Sarah Iannone (UA) def. May Vickers (B) 6-4,5-6(1), 1-0 (12)
5. Aubrey Brooks (UA) def. Steph Smyers (B) 6-3,6-4$$
6. Rosie Bird (B) def. Francine White (UA) 8-0
Order of finish: 1,3,2,5,6,4
UALBANY RECORDS: 8-8 (Overall); 0-1 (AmericaEast)
NEXT MATCH: Sunday, April 1 @ Boston Univ. Match time 1:00 p.m.
NEXT HOME MATCH: Thurs., April 12 vs. UMass…SENIOR DAY!!