BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The 2015 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Women's Tennis Playoff championship match is set and, fittingly, it will be a rematch of last weekend's regular-season title match as No. 1 Gustavus and No. 2 St. Thomas both prevailed with identical 5-1 wins in Friday's semifinals.
The Gusties (16-12) enjoyed home-court advantage in St. Peter, Minn., and swept the doubles en route to their 5-1 victory over fourth-seeded St. Olaf (12-6). The second-seeded Tommies got three of the five points they needed to win in singles play as they took down three-time defending MIAC Playoff champion and third-seeded Carleton 5-1 at Lifetime Fitness in Lakeville, Minn.
Gustavus will try to capture its sixth MIAC Playoff title in its second-straight trip to the title match. The Gusties won each of the first five MIAC Playoff title before Carleton interrupted the streak and won the next three (2012-2014). The Tommies are seeking their first MIAC Playoff title and return to the championship match after also reaching the final and losing to Carleton in 2013.
NO. 1 GUSTAVUS 5, NO. 4 ST. OLAF 1 | Box Score |
St. Olaf impressed in its quarterfinal win over St. Catherine and it gave Gustavus a tough test in doubles play, but the Gusties pulled out a trio of close doubles win and then got the two singles points they needed to finish off the win and advance to Sunday's championship match.
Gustavus pulled out an 8-5 win at No. 1 singles from the tandem of Sidney Dirks and Laurel Krebsbach and Katie Aney and Ally Baker gave the Gusties an 8-4 victory at No. 3 singles. St. Olaf's stiffest challenge came at No. 2 doubles, where Kristi Kroker and Margaret Zimmerman engaged in an entertaining duel with Gustavus' Michaela Schulz and Lizzy Stanczyk, but the Gustie duo pulled out a narrow 9-7 victory.
Erin Hynes gave St. Olaf its lone point with a 6-3, 6-2, straight-sets victory at No. 5 singles, but it proved to be too little, too late, as Gustavus got a win from Ally Baker at No. 6 singles when her opponent retired and Dirks rolled to a 6-2, 6-4, win at No. 4 singles to bring the match to decision. The matches in the top three spots were building towards entertaining finishes when the match ended, as St. Olaf's Alisa Hall and Schulz were tied 2-2 in the third at No. 1, and both Kroker and Krebsbach at No. 2 and Maya MacGibbon and Stanczyk at No. 3 also appeared to be heading for a third set.
NO. 2 ST. THOMAS 5, NO. 3 CARLETON 1 | Box Score |
The Tommies beat the Knights for the second time in 2015 Friday, and this time it not only moved UST to the title match for the second time in three years, it also marked the end of Carleton's three-year reign in the MIAC Playoffs. UST and Carleton were locked in a 2-1 match after doubles, but St. Thomas got the three singles wins it needed to surge to the 5-1 win.
St. Thomas took its 2-1 lead thanks to wins at No. 1 and 3 doubles. The Tommies' top tandem of Kara Lefsrud and Bridget Noack got an 8-2 win and Caitlin Bakke and Jenna Zimmerman got an 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles. Carleton stayed close thanks to an impressive 8-1 win at No. 2 doubles thanks to Joyce Yu and Alana Danieu, and UST's lead was just one after doubles.
However, St. Thomas responded with a trio of clutch wins in the singles matches to bring the match to decision and claim its spot in the title match. Zimmerman got a straight-sets, 6-3, 6-3, win at No. 5 singles, and Noack and Paige Becher each won dramatic three-set thrillers at No. 2 and No. 6, respectively. Noack notched a 6-3, 0-6, 6-3 win and Becher rallied from a 1-0 deficit with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, victory to give UST the win.
SEMIFINAL WINNERS HEADED TO 'SUPER SUNDAY'
Thanks to Friday's semifinal results, a "Super Sunday" showdown is set between the league's top two teams in 2015 with another title on the line. Gustavus beat St. Thomas 6-3 on Saturday, April 25, to win the regular-season title and earn the Playoffs' No. 1 seed, and now the two will meet again eight days later with further championship implications. The Tommies will visit the Gusties on Sunday at 1 p.m. for the MIAC Playoff championship match, and the winner will also receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Playoffs.
The MIAC has a home page dedicated to the 2015 MIAC Women's Tennis Playoffs, containing schedules, links and information on each of the six teams in the field. Throughout the tournament, the page will be updated with scores, stats, updated schedules and more. The MIAC also has an interactive tournament bracket so fans can follow the action in bracket form.
Fans can also track the MIAC Playoff action on the MIAC Scoreboard or the MIAC mobile app, which is a free download for both Apple and Android devices. Connect throughout the tournament on social media through the MIAC's Facebook page or Twitter and Instagram accounts, using the hashtags #MIACWT and #MIACPlayoffs.
2015 MIAC WOMEN'S TENNIS PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE | INTERACTIVE BRACKET |
Quarterfinal: Wednesday, April 29
No. 3 Carleton 8, No. 3 Saint Benedict 1 | Box Score |
No. 4 St. Olaf 7, No. 5 St. Catherine 2 | Box Score |
Semifinals: Friday, May 1 - 4:30 p.m.
No. 1 Gustavus 5, No. 4 St. Olaf 1 | Box Score |
No. 2 St. Thomas 5, No. 3 Carleton 1 | Box Score |
Championship: Sunday, May 3 - 1 p.m.
No. 2 St. Thomas at No. 1 Gustavus | St. Peter, Minn. |