BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The 2016 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) spring postseason opened Thursday with the MIAC Women's Tennis Playoff quarterfinal matches, and the conference tournaments certainly started on the right foot. One of the MIAC's three regular-season tri-champions asserted itself well in its postseason debut, and the No. 4-5 seeds battled through a thrilling quarterfinal match.
No. 3 St. Thomas won two of three doubles matches and five of the six singles contests to prevail with a 7-2 victory over No. 6 St. Catherine. The Tommies - which shared the MIAC regular-season title with both Carleton and Gustavus - now joins the other two champs in the semifinals. In the other match, No. 4 St. Olaf and No. 5 Bethel met for the second time in four days, and that familiarity produced an outstanding match, as the host Oles took two of three doubles matches, and then held off a Bethel charge in singles play for the victory.
NO. 3 ST. THOMAS 7 , NO. 6 ST. CATHERINE 2 | Box Score |
Due to tiebreaker criteria, St. Thomas was the lone regular-season tri-champion to open the MIAC Playoffs Tuesday, as fellow champs Carleton and Gustavus enjoyed a bye to the semifinals. However, the defending Playoff champions went to work on their title defense Tuesday with a solid 7-2 win over sixth-seeded St. Kate's. The Wildcats got impressive wins at the top spot in both singles and doubles play, but the Tommies were too good up and down the rest of the lineup, and the higher seed advanced in a match that was played on St. Kate's home court.
The match started with UST taking two of the three doubles matches. Mikinzee Salo and Angie Lorenzen were 8-4 winners for the Wildcats at No. 1 doubles, but the Tommies took the No. 2 and 3 spots, as Caitlin Bakke and Jenna Zimmerman teamed up for an 8-4 win at the No. 2 spots, and Paige Becher and Audra Hoffman were 8-3 winners at No. 3.
Salo turned in another impressive performance when the match shifted to singles play, as she pulled out a 6-0, 6-4, win for St. Kate's at the No. 1 spot, but UST went on to sweep the rest of the singles matches and punch its ticket to the semifinals. The Tommies got wins from Shelby Henderson at No. 2 (7-5, 6-2), Bakke at No. 3 (6-1, 6-1), Zimmerman at No. 4 (6-0, 6-1), Becher at No. 5 (6-0, 6-4) and Jessie O'Brien at No. 6 (7-5, 6-3). St. Thomas improved to 16-2 overall in 2016, and 10-1 against MIAC foes, while St. Catherine's first season under Co-Head Coaches Eric Stacey and Megan Gaard ended with a 10-9 overall mark.
NO. 4 ST. OLAF 5, NO. 5 BETHEL 4 | Box Score |
The fourth-seeded Oles and fifth-seeded Royals just saw one another - in the regular-season finale on April 30, which St. Olaf won 8-1, but this time around it was a match fitting of the postseason stage. St. Olaf won two of the three doubles matches to pull ahead 2-1, but Bethel wasn't going down without a fight. The Royals battled back in singles play to keep it close, but in the end St. Olaf got the three wins it needed to pull out a 5-4 win and reach the semifinals.
The Oles pulled out a narrow 8-6 win at No. 1 doubles, with Alisa Hall and Margaret Zimmerman teaming up for the win. St. Olaf was also an 8-4 winner at No. 3 doubles thanks to the tandem of Bailey Kent and Kellis Brandt. Bethel got its doubles win at No. 2, as Mattie Kidder and Anna Browning rolled to an 8-3 win to keep the Royals within striking distance.
Bethel's No. 5 and 6 singles players both impressed in Tuesday's Playoffs, as Abigail Anderson was a 6-0, 6-3, winner at No. 6 and Jill Weintzettel pulled out a three-set win (2-6, 6-3, 6-2) at No. 5. However, Zimmerman won at No. 2 (7-5, 6-1), Maya MacGibbon was victorious at No. 3 (6-2, 6-1) and Erin McDonald won a tiebreaker at No. 3 to pull out a 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), at No. 4 to help St. Olaf get the five points it needed. Bethel's final win came at No. 1, where Sydney Parkinson was ahead in the third 7-5, 3-6, 3-0, when Hall withdrew. The Oles improved to 10-4 with the win, while Bethel's breakout season closed with a 19-5 record.
'FINAL FOUR' FACE OFF THURSDAY
Thanks to their quarterfinal wins Tuesday, the Tommies and Oles advanced to Thursday's semifinals, where top-seeded Carleton and No. 2 Gustavus are waiting. As the lowest-remaining seed, St. Olaf will across the river to the other side of Northfield, Minn., to take on the cross-town rival Knights, which means St. Thomas will visit St. Peter, Minn., Thursday to face the Gusties in a matchup of two of the MIAC's regular-season tri-champions. Both semifinal matches are scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m.
The two semifinal winners will advance to the championship match, which will played Saturday at 1 p.m. on the home court of the top remaining seed. The tournament champ will receive the MIAC Playoff championship plaque, and the conference's automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Tournament. St. Thomas is the defending MIAC Women's Tennis Playoff Champion, as the Tommies ended Carleton's three-year run as tournament champ last spring. Gustavus won each of the first five MIAC Playoff titles prior to Carleton's run.
The MIAC has a home page dedicated to the 2016 MIAC Women's Tennis Playoffs, containing schedules, links and information on each of the six teams in the field. There is also an interactive bracket to help fans track the tournament's progress. Throughout the tournament, the page will be updated with scores, stats, updated schedules and more. Fans can also follow the action on the MIAC Scoreboard or on the free MIAC mobile app. Connect throughout the Playoffs on social media through the MIAC's Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #MIACWT.
2016 MIAC Women's Tennis Playoffs
Quarterfinals: Tuesday, May 3 - 3:30 p.m.
No. 3 St. Thomas 7, No. 6 St. Kate's 2 | Box Score |
No. 4 St. Olaf 5, No. 5 Bethel 4 | Box Score |
Semifinals: Thursday, May 5 - 3:30 p.m.
No. 4 St. Olaf at No. 1 Carleton | Northfield, Minn. |
No. 3 St. Thomas at No. 2 Gustavus | St. Peter, Minn. |
Championship: Saturday, May 7 - 1 p.m.
Semifinal winners at high seed | Location: TBD |