"We started slow in every set today but picked it up and played better as the matches went on," head coach Jeff Maren stated. "Overall, this was a good step forward."
The Lady Flames (4-3, 3-0 Big South) swept the doubles matches from the Bulldogs (3-5, 0-1 Big South) outdoors before moving inside to play singles due to the rain. Liberty won five of six singles matchups against UNC Asheville and has now won 14 of 18 meetings all-time against the Bulldogs.
In doubles, Liberty sophomores Rebekah Anderson and Aleksandra Panchenko provided the team an early boost with a 6-3 victory over Asheville's top pairing of Hannah Francisco and Kylee Shipley.
Junior Evangeline Crist and sophomore Anna Dollar gave the visiting Lady Flames the doubles point with a 6-3 triumph over the Bulldogs' Hunter Hall and Lauren Watson-Steele.
Senior Mariely Hassey and freshman Eugenia Camacho completed the sweep for Liberty, defeating Christin Louw and Emily Sidor by an identical score of 6-3.
Singles play featured strong efforts from Liberty. In the No. 4 spot, Crist needed two sets to best Louw (6-4, 6-0) and give the visiting side a 2-0 lead. Dollar took down Shipley in the No. 2 position, winning 6-2, 6-4.
Panchenko bounced back from a first-set loss to take the last two sets from Watson-Steele and the No. 3 singles match, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4. The Moscow, Russia, native's win officially gave the Lady Flames their third conference win of the year.
"I am really proud of the girls for not lowering their level and focusing all the way through doubles and singles," Panchenko said. "I am very glad I turned my match around. After losing the first set, I had to rethink my patterns, so I just focused on one point at a time."
|Panchenko won a thrilling three-set match at No. 3 singles and also won at No. 1 doubles with Anderson.|
The last two matches to begin both went in Liberty's favor. Hassey emerged with a win over Sidor, 6-2, 6-0, to stretch the Liberty lead to 5-1. Playing in the No. 5 position for the first time this year, Camacho knocked off Hall in straight sets (6-4, 6-3) to settle the score at 6-1.
Liberty will now make the trek to Furman (5-4) for an 11 a.m. match, Sunday at the Mickel Tennis Center in Greenville, S.C.