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Women's NCAA Elite 8 Recap

Women's NCAA Elite 8 Recap
The NCAA Women's Tennis Championship is down to its final four teams after Stanford, Ohio State, Florida, and Vanderbilt notched quarterfinal wins on Sunday.

For the second straight day, rain messed with the schedule in Athens, GA, and ultimately forced some of the matches indoors. While Stanford, UF, and Vanderbilt were able to complete their matches at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, OSU had its quarterfinal against Texas Tech moved to Atlanta on Georgia Tech's indoor courts, where the Buckeyes eventually won the match 4-0.

In Monday's semifinals, Stanford will face Ohio State in at 2 PM while top-seeded Florida will take on Vanderbilt at the same time. 

Let's get right to all the action with the following quarterfinal recaps:

No. 1 Florida 4, No. 9 Oklahoma State 1

Sunday Stat: The Gators advance to the NCAA Championship semifinals for the 25th time in the last 31 years.

Here's How It Happened: Top-seeded Florida (27-3) left no doubt that it is still the team to beat with a resounding win over No. 9 Oklahoma State. It was the second time this season the two programs have met, with UF capturing the 4-2 decision in Gainesville back on Feb. 17. 

For the 25th time in 30 matches, the Gators won the doubles point, paced by No. 20 team of Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan and No. 45 Josie Kuhlman and Belina Woolcock. 

In singles, Austin picked up point No. 2 with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Katarina Stresnakova on court five. No. 23 Kulhman of Florida came next, taking a 6-1, 6-1 match on court two over Katarina Adamovic. Oklahoma State's No. 73 Aliona Bolsova supplied an OSU point on court three against No. 31 Ingrid Neel, but No. 44 Anna Danilina clinched the match for Florida with a 6-4, 6-4 win on court four over No. 63 Vladica Babic.

"The NCAA tournament is always different, every single time we play them they are fighting and they are a really, really good team," said Danilina, a junior from Moscow, Russia.

I think we just handled the tough ones in the end of sets better.
Florida head coach Roland Thornquist said his team played a disciplined and tough OSU squad.

"They really brought the best out of us today as we played really, really well," he said. 

Oklahoma State head coach Chris Young thinks UF is a team that can take the title back to Gainesville.

"They are an exceptional team, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they went on to win it all," he said. "You always enjoy competing against the best. Our girls gave it all they had this entire season and competed like champions."

We'll Leave You With This: When the Gators capture the doubles point, they are 24-1.

No. 3 Vanderbilt 4, No. 12 Pepperdine 2

Sunday Stat: This is the third straight season Vanderbilt has advanced to the final four. 

Here's How It Happened: Despite dropping the doubles points, the Commodores advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships with a 4-2 win over No. 12 Pepperdine. 

In doubles, the Waves (24-5) notched the first set with a 6-2 win from eighth-ranked Christine Maddox and Mayar Sherif Ahmed over top-ranked Astra Sharma and Emily Smith. Vanderbilt (24-5) won the second, as Sydney Campbell and Emma Kurtz topped No. 53 Luisa Stefani and Jean Runglerdkriangkrai 6-2. The point came down to Ashley Lahey and Dzina Milovanovic of Pepperdine, who beat Christina Rosca and Fernanda Contreras 6-3 on court three.

"I thought Pepperdine played a fantastic doubles point," Vanderbilt head coach Geoff MacDonald said. "Pepperdine is really good at every position, and I was just amazed at the poise and heart of my team to be able to come back.

I have a lot of compassion right now for Pepperdine. Right now I want to enjoy this win for a couple of hours and then I know we have to get our bodies ready and get ready to compete as hard as we can against Florida.
In singles, the Commodores quickly evened the score on court six with a 6-0, 6-2 victory from Fernanda Contreras over Milovanovic. On court three, No. 37 Ahmed put the Waves back on top with a 6-2, 6-2 win against No. 102 Christina Rosca.

Vanderbilt returned on court one with fourth-ranked Astra Sharma surpassing 14th-ranked Luisa Stefani 6-4, 6-4. After another Vandy win at No. 5 singles, 15th-ranked Sydney Campbell clinched the match for Vanderbilt on court two with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over No. 19 Ashley Lahey.

"It feels good," Campbell said. "It was a little nerve-racking, but I had a heads up when I looked at the scoreboard and knew it would come down to me to clinch the win."

Pepperdine head coach Per Nilsson thinks Vanderbilt can go all the way.

"I honestly thought we had it there so it was really fun and the girls played amazing," he said. "It stinks to lose the last one, but I wish Vanderbilt all the best. They played amazingly, especially there at the end, and when it came down to pressure points they were just a little bit better than us."

We'll Leave You With This: Vanderbilt has dealt semifinal opponent Florida two of its three losses this season, most recently a 4-3 win for the SEC Tournament title. The Commodores have won five of their last six meetings against the Gators.

No. 2 Ohio State 4, No. 7 Texas Tech 0

Sunday Stat: Ohio State advanced to the final four for the first time in school history.

Here's How It Happened: The nation's No. 1 singles player Francesca Di Lorenzo left it up to her teammates to bring home the victory. The ensuing euphoria that comes with making a historic run to the NCAA semifinals followed soon after. 

A sophomore from New Albany, Ohio, Di Lorenzo dropped the first set to Gabriela Talaba 4-6 but led 4-2 when the match was clinched by teammate and fellow Ohioan junior Anna Sanford, who took out Felicity Maltby, 7-6 (5), 6-4. 

The match was moved to the indoor courts of Georgia Tech's Ken Byers Tennis Complex because of rain.

"Lots of thoughts were going through my head but I was more just excited," Sanford said on clinching the match.

We have worked so hard this year, just on and off the court every day, just trying to do our best, and I just really wanted to do it for my teammates.
Ohio State managed the doubles point from courts two and three, relying on Sandy Niehaus and Sanford and Gabriella De Santis and Ferny Angeles Paz. 

"We came out strong in the doubles, it's always a good thing to get that 1-0 lead going into singles," Ohio State head coach Melissa Schaub said. "There were some really gritty performances. They are a very tough team to play against. We need to give a lot of credit to their program and what they've done."

Leading 1-0, the Buckeyes delivered their first singles point on court six, as Ferny Angeles Paz topped Katelyn Jackson 6-2, 6-2. No. 91 Miho Kowase extended the Ohio State lead with a 6-4, 6-1 victory on court four against Texas Tech's Sabrina Federici.

"We have a group over there that is extremely disappointed," Texas Tech head coach Todd Petty said. "They were a lot tougher than us down the stretch in some big moments. I thought we gave ourselves a shot, but Ohio State is one heck of a team. They have done some amazing things this year, and I bet they keep it going."

We'll Leave You With This: The Buckeyes were down a set in the three matches left on the court.

No. 6 Stanford 4, No. 4 North Carolina 2

Sunday Stat: Stanford has won 15 of its last 17 NCAA Tournament matches when seeded lower than its opponent, a streak dating back to 2010. 

Here's How It Happened: Sixth-ranked Stanford advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships by topping fourth-ranked North Carolina 4-2 in the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Tennis Courts. 

Stanford (25-2) jumped to an early lead on court one as the 39th-ranked tandem of Emily Arbuthnott and Taylor Davidson took out one of the nation's top team's in No. 4-ranked Jessie Aney and Hayley Carter 6-1. On court two, the 6-1 victory from No. 46 Caroline Doyle and Melissa Lord over Cassandra Vazquez and Alexa Graham sealed the doubles point for Stanford.

In singles, No. 2 Hayley Carter of North Carolina (33-3) cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Carolina Doyle on court one, but the Cardinal climbed back on top 2-1 with a 6-2, 7-5 effort from No. 54 Taylor Davidson on court three.

No. 28 Melissa Lord extended the Stanford lead against No. 18 Sara Daavettila in three sets: 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. On court four, No. 74 Alexa Graham cut the score to 3-2, utilizing three sets to overcome No. 90 Carolina Lampl 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.

For the 10th time this season, freshman Arbuthnott clinched the match, this time defeating Makenna Jones 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 on court five. 

"I think mentally I was really strong and I made a good start to the set," Arbuthnott said. "I was holding my serve and making a lot of first serves, which I hadn't been doing the rest of the match.

I just really felt comfortable. It was nice to play aggressively and overall be mentally tough so that I could get a lead and hopefully make her more tired.
Arbuthnott improved to 6-0 on the season in three-set matches.

"We struggled with finishing matches early, but what we did well was surviving their comeback," Stanford head coach Lele Forood said. "Obviously getting our freshman on last is not preferred, but they had to find their way and Emily Arbuthnott got it done. It's always fun to advance to the semifinals, and we like playing here in Athens so we're excited to be here for the final four."

North Carolina head coach Brian Kalbas was proud of his team, despite the loss.

"It was an over four-hour match and we were fighting an uphill battle the whole time, but we competed really hard," Kalbas said. "Hayley Carter has meant so much to our team and she played an amazing singles match, so it is unfortunate she cannot continue on. Our team battled, but Stanford deserves a lot of credit. Once we gained some momentum they were able to negate it."

We'll Leave You With This: Stanford is now 145-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. 
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