INDIANAPOLIS - For the third consecutive season, the 21st-ranked and No. 2-seeded Marian University women's tennis team is headed to the Crossroads League Tournament championship match. The Knights defeated third-seeded Taylor University by a 7-2 score at the MU Tennis Courts on Thursday afternoon.
With the win, MU moved to 10-2 on the season, while the Trojans closed the fall season with a 10-4 mark.
"Little did I know when I first took this job we would be in this position where we are now," said head coach Cassie Mackell
. "The ladies have worked hard for it so I can't be anything but thrilled about it."
MU opened the match with a sweep of the doubles competition to open an early cushion. Junior Sarah Potter
and freshman Anna Potter
teamed for their ninth win of the season after they earned an 8-4 win at No. 3 doubles to open the match. Senior Brittney Horlacher
and junior Hannah Knust
improved to 14-5 on the year after they earned an 8-3 win at No. 1 doubles. Seniors Olivia Pursell
and Lauren Paras
completed the sweep with an 8-4 win at No. 2 doubles to improve to 10-3 on the year.
Pursell made quick work of her opponent to open the singles competition as she won her school record 62nd career singles match 6-1, 6-0 at No. 5 singles to make it 4-0. She is now 9-5 on the year and 62-18 in her singles career.
Horlacher earned the clinching point with a 6-0, 6-4 win at No. 1 singles to make it 5-0. She is now 12-5 on the year and 57-32 in her career. Junior Sarah Potter
had to fight, but earned a 5-7, 6-4, 10-5 win at No. 3 singles to move to 6-4 on the season before Paras could not overcome her opponent in a 3-6, 4-6 defeat at No. 4 singles. Anna Potter
gave MU its seventh point after she earned a 7-6 (7-0), 6-3 win at No. 6 singles, but Knust could not overcome a 7-5, 4-6, 6-10 defeat at No. 2 singles to make the final score 7-2 and send MU to its third straight league tourney final.
"Brittney has done a fantastic job for us at one and she stepped it up today," said Mackell when speaking about the seniors. "She did exactly what we wanted her to do. She and Hannah (Knust) did a great job at one doubles starting it out. Olivia and Lauren have done a fantastic job. Olivia took care of business today. I had Lauren change strategies in the middle of the match today and she did it without hesitation. As a coach, you can't ask for much more than that. They have matured in their games and have definitely grown in the past four years."
"The nice thing is that all the ladies battle it out in challenge matches," said Mackell when talking about the lineup and the team's depth. "Tougher matches are expected at one and two. They have done a great job fighting at one and two. The nice thing is that our team is so deep that when it gets to the middle of the lineup with Sarah, Lauren and Olivia that if they bring their 'A' games they are pretty hard to beat."
The Knights will battle top-seeded Indiana Wesleyan at Sutter Tennis Center in Marion, Ind., for the league's automatic berth at the 2014 NAIA Women's Tennis National Championships in Mobile, Ala., in May. The match will take place on Saturday with the time still to be determined.
"I can't be anything but excited," said Mackell when talking about heading to IWU for the final. "This is where we wanted to be. I know practice will be excellent tomorrow so all we can do is bring our 'A' game and see what happens."