April 21, 2011
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The 36th-ranked and ninth-seeded South Carolina women's tennis team (13-9, 4-7 SEC) won a near-five-hour match Thursday in the first round of the SEC Tournament over No. 37 and eighth-seeded Ole Miss (11-10, 4-7 SEC) in Knoxville, Tenn. The 4-3 victory for the Gamecocks has them pitted against top-seed and No. 2-ranked Florida (22-1, 11-0 SEC) in the quarterfinals Friday at noon.
"I believe we were in control of the first two hours of the match," associate head coach Katarina Petrovic said. "After that, a couple people lost, but this is the SEC Tournament and every team in the conference is competitive."
Unlike the regular-season match between the two schools, the Gamecocks claimed the doubles point with wins on courts two and three. At two, Dijana Stojic and Madeleine Saari-Byström jumped out to a 3-1 lead on Connor Vogel and Gabby Rangel. They later ran the score to 5-2 and still led 7-3 after 10 games. The Rebels broke Stojic's serve but the Gamecocks countered in the next game with a break to win 8-4.
At the same time that Stojic and Saari-Byström had match point versus Vogel and Rangel, Miljana Jocic and Katerina Popova had their own match point against Caroline Rohde-Moe and Laura van de Stroet at No. 3 doubles. The Rebels fought it off and then won the next two points to make the score 7-5 with Popova serving next. Down 30-40, the Gamecock duo got to deuce after Jocic poached a ball at the net. On the next two points, Ole Miss missed a forehand volley at the net and then hit a forehand in the net from the baseline to give South Carolina the doubles point.
On court one, South Carolina's Anya Morgina and Dominika Kanakova fell behind 3-0 against Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie, but the two cut the deficit to 4-3. Boxx and Guthrie then pushed ahead to 7-3 with Morgina serving in the next game. After the Gamecocks won the first point in the 11th game, play was suspended since the doubles point had been clinched.
The Gamecocks ran the score to 2-0 with Kanakova winning 6-1, 6-4 over van de Stroet at the No. 4 singles position, but the Rebels quickly answered back with a 6-3, 6-4 win from Vivian Vlaar over Saari-Byström on court six. Rohde-Moe then held off a late charge by Popova to win 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) on court three to tie the score at 2-all. She had a 4-1 lead on Popova before falling behind 5-4 in the second set.
Boxx gave the Rebels the lead with a come-from-behind victory at No. 1 singles against Morgina. After losing the first set 6-1 and trailing 5-3 in the second, Boxx came back to win the second set in a tiebreaker 7-2. In the final set, she cruised to a 6-2 victory.
The Rebels were in control of the final two matches on court with Vogel up a set on Stojic at two and Guthrie ahead 4-2 in the third over Adriana Pereira at No. 5 singles. Pereira, though, continued to fight and ran off four games in a row for a 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 victory over Guthrie.
On court two, after losing the first set 6-3, Stojic had a 5-4 lead on Vogel in the second set, but Vogel came back to grab a 6-5 advantage with a chance to serve out the match. Vogel earned herself two match points at 40-15, but Stojic came to the net on the next two points and hit consecutive forehand volley winners to force deuce. After winning the ensuing two points, Stojic raced through the tiebreaker to win 7-0 and force a third and decisive set.
"I felt very confident when the whole team started cheering for me," Stojic said. "It's a different feeling when it's 3-all. I feel better on the court and I started hitting well."
By winning the first point of the third set, Stojic won 12 consecutive points against Vogel before finally losing a rally after facing two match points at 6-5 in the second set. In the third, Stoijc blanked Vogel 6-0 to lift South Carolina to a 4-3 win and avenge the 4-1 loss the Gamecocks took in the regular season to the Rebels.
The win marked the sixth time this season Stojic has provided the clinching point for the Gamecocks. She improved to 21-9 on the year with the victory and 15-6 in dual matches at No. 2 singles.
Order of Finish: 4, 6, 3, 1, 5, 2
Order of Finish: 2, 3
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