Wildcats squeak by Ole women in first round of MIAC playoffs

Nick Hoelmer
April 29, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS-- After being defeated by St. Catherine earlier this season 6-3, the St. Olaf women's tennis team was looking to rebound in a rematch with the Wildcats in the first round of the MIAC playoffs on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortuntaly for the Oles, No. 4-seed St. Catherine was able to prevail again, and defeated No. 5-seed St. Olaf 5-4 at the Baseline Tennis Center.

"We were competitive in every single match and had chances tonight," said senior Lizzie Carlson. "It's extremely bittersweet, but I couldn't be more proud of the girls for playing with a lot of heart and class tonight. You want to be playing your best tennis at the end of the season and we did just that."

In doubles play, the Oles struck quickly, as the number three team of Kristi Kroker and Caitlin Owsley rattled off an 8-1 victory over the Wildcats' Alicia Knoll and Megan Buysse. However, St. Catherine was able to come away on top at the top two positions, as Lisa Hall and Maya MacGibbon fell at the top spot 8-4 and the team of Andrea Jumes and Bailey Kent was defeated 8-2 at the second position, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 advantage heading into singles play.

Kent got the Oles back on track by coming away victorious at sixth singles. The sophomore defeated Buysse 6-3, 6-1 to put the match at 2-2. However, St. Catherine rebounded with three straight victories to clinch the match.

At fifth singles, Knoll defeated Carlson 6-2, 6-4. Hall came close in her match at the first position, but was eventually defeated by Victoria Bravo, who has now won 21-straight MIAC matches. Erin Hynes also gave her opponent a run for her money at the fourth spot. Hynes cruised to a 6-2 victory in her first set, but her opponent, Mikinzee Salo, was able to fight back and took the second set 6-0. The pair battled back and forth in the third and deciding set, but it was Salo who was able to come out on top and her 6-4 third set win gave St. Catherine their fifth point and secured the Wildcats a victory.

Meanwhile, Kroker and MacGibbon continued to play their matches at the second and third singles positions respectively, despite the overall match already being decided. Kroker and MacGibbon both were able to work their way to third set tiebreaker victories. MacGibbon won her first set 6-2, but was narrowly defeated in a second set tiebreaker 7-4. MacGibbon then came from behind in the deciding 10-point tiebreaker to defeat Kylie Ketcho 12-10. Kroker found herself in a one set hole after falling to Maria Koval 6-2 in her first set and was on the brink of defeat by being down 5-2 in her second set. However, the junior remained steady and whipped off five straight games to clinch the set 7-5. Kroker kept that momentum going in her 10-point tiebreaker and won easily, 10-2.

St. Olaf finishes their season with a conference record of 6-4 and overall record of 8-5. This afternoon's match marks the last for seniors Carlson and Owsley. Carlson will finish her senior campaign with an impressive 11-2 mark in singles. Owsley played strictly doubles in her senior season and finishes with a 7-3 mark.

"I couldn't have asked for better teammates, especially this year," said Carlson. "To be surrounded by positive, hardworking and loving individuals is not something you see everywhere at the collegiate level."

"I knew going into this playoff match that it might be my last one," said Owsley. "I'm going to miss the way my Oles play their hearts out, smile through the tough moments, and above all, support each other like a family. It was really special to end my fourth and last tennis season with a win against a team of strong players, but at the end of the day, that's not what I'm going to remember. I'm going to remember the ten beautiful and inspiring women with which I've had the honor to play tennis and share a piece of my life."

Contact media relations specialist Mike Ludwig at (507) 786-3834 or ludwigm@stolaf.edu.