Whoa, they’re halfway there

Jessie Cai

Three wins down. Three to go.

With a 4-1 victory over No. 16 seeded Fresno State yesterday, top-ranked Northwestern advanced to the quarterfinals and is one step closer to an NCAA title.

“We knew they were going to be a tough opponent,” coach Claire Pollard said of the Bulldogs. “It was a great match for us, we were in control to some extent, but at the same time, we were pushed, which is only going to help us prepare better for the next round.”

The Wildcats opened the match looking to avenge one of their few losses in doubles play. Although NU defeated Fresno State 4-1 earlier this season in the first round of the National Indoor Championships, the Bulldogs won the doubles point.

This time, the Cats came prepared. NU swept the doubles point, taking a 1-0 lead. At the No. 3 spot, Maria Mosolova and Nazlie Ghazal defeated Danon Beatty and Jacqueline Haskett 8-2. Samantha Murray and Suzie Matzenauer clinched the doubles point, winning their match 8-5.

“I thought the doubles performance was really good,” Pollard said. “It was one of the best doubles points (we) have had. They’re one of the few teams with two doubles teams ranked in the country, so it’s certainly nice to get that point.”

The Cats continued their domination in singles play. At the No. 6 spot, Matzenauer won her third consecutive match of the tournament, giving the Cats a 2-0 lead. She defeated Danon Beatty 6-2, 6-3, and now boasts a 27-2 season record.

Freshman Maria Mosolova, ranked fifth in the nation, extended the Cats’ lead to 3-0 after defeating Melanie Gloria 6-3, 6-2. Mosolova, who was named Midwest Rookie Player of the Year by the ITA on Wednesday, said she came out expecting a tough match.

Only one win away from clinching the win, NU found itself locked in tight matches on all four remaining courts. The Cats were handed their first loss of the tournament when Petukhova defeated Rose 6-4, 6-4, closing the Cats’ lead to 3-1.

But the Cats continued to work hard, and it paid off.

Lui, who boasts a flawless 22-0 record at the No. 4 spot, sealed the victory after defeating Tinesta Rowe 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 in a hard-fought match.

“It felt pretty good to clinch the win,” she said. “During match point she missed the first serve, but her second serve clipped the net so it double-faulted, so I was like, ‘Yes!'”

NU will face California (18-5) in the quarterfinals on Saturday at noon. The Cats swept the Golden Bears 4-0 earlier this season. Although NU has advanced to the quarterfinals two out of the last three seasons, they have never made it to the semifinals.

“I’m really excited,” Mosolova said. ‘It’s going to be really upsetting if we don’t win the tournament, but we can’t take anything for granted, so we’ll see how things go.”

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