USC Women Beat Baylor 4-1 In NCAA Round of 16|
May 17, 2012
ATHENS, GA. - USC junior Danielle Lao may not have tallied the individual win today for the No. 5-seeded USC women's tennis team, but it was her gutsy effort on court two that robbed Baylor of any hope of a momentum shift in today's NCAA Round of 16 match in Athens, Ga. Lao fought off six match points, then won the second-set tiebreaker to give teammates Sabrina Santamaria and Zoe Scandalis the room to maneuver past the Bears and hone in on a 4-1 USC victory. The win pushes the 23-3 Trojans into the NCAA Quarterfinals against No. 4 seed Stanford at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday (May 19) at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Trojans first claimed a tight doubles point with a determined performance on court three by Danielle Lao and Alison Ramos, who answered a push by the Bears with a roll to an 8-5 clinching win, capped off by Lao at the service line and Ramos at the net to bring home the first point of the match for the Trojans. USC's top guns Kaitlyn Christian and Sabrina Santamaria had held tough together on court one to take what was a slim 5-4 lead out to an 8-4 win thanks to a couple breaks and a hold by Christian. Baylor made it interesting with a win at the No. 2 spot. USC's Valeria Pulido and Zoe Scandalis had reeled in the Bears to pull within 4-6 of their Baylor opponents, but Baylor managed the 8-4 win to tie up the doubles play one each, setting up the clinching heroics by Lao and Ramos.
As the teams dug into singles action, courts five and six were moving quickly. Baylor would even things up on a 6-1, 6-0 win by Jordaan Sandford over USC freshman Gabriella DeSimone. But USC junior Valeria Pulido was riding a hefty singles win streak into her No. 6 match, and she showed little sign of slowing as she plowed past Baylor's Megan Horter for a 6-1, 6-3 win that boosted the Trojans up 2-1. It was Pulido's 16th straight singles victory, as she stands undefeated at 11-0 in dual-match singles play.
Until USC sophomore Kaitlyn Christian pulled out a 7-5 win in her first set on court four, the Trojans had won one first-set - Pulido's quick win on six. The Trojans were undeterred, however. USC's freshman contingent of Sabrina Santamaria and Zoe Scandalis rebounded from first-set losses to push into a third. And Danielle Lao, who had also fallen in her first set, was making noise in her second. Back against the wall, with opponent Diana Nakic putting her up against six match points in the second set, Lao refused to go down as she held off Baylor's push to even the score. While she did so, Santamaria shoved her way through Sona Novakova in her third set to register a comeback win that pulled the Trojans ahead 3-1. Santamaria tallied a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 comeback win, and Lao fought off those six match points to bring up a tiebreak, which she won 7-4 to journey into a third set. She wouldn't get the opportunity to dig into the third, however, as Scandalis finally overmatched her hard-hitting opponent, Nina Secerbegovic, with a break and a hold to win the clincher 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 and lock in USC with the 4-1 victory.
The NCAA Round of 16 win puts the Women of Troy up against No. 4-seeded Pac-12 rival Stanford in Saturday's NCAA Quarterfinals. USC lost to the Cardinal 4-2 in their conference clash this season, but still claimed a share of the 2012 Pac-12 Championship as Stanford also finished the season with a 9-1 Pac-12 record. USC's last win over the Cardinal came in 2009, when current USC senior Alison Ramos was a freshman. That year, USC won the conference crown thanks to the 5-2 win over the Cardinal. USC and Stanford will face off in this year's NCAA Quarterfinals at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday (May 19).
2012 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Dan Magill Tennis Complex - Athens, Ga.)