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Cougars Stopped By Sunbirds

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February 21, 2011
Joe Reinsch
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FRESNO, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific’s longest season-opening win streak since 2004 was stopped at 5 straight victories, as the NAIA’s No. 8-ranked Cougars suffered a 6-3 defeat to defending NAIA champion Fresno Pacific Monday afternoon.

The Cougars picked up 2 singles victories and 1 doubles win, but all 3 came in the bottom third of the lineups. At No. 3 doubles, senior Casey Wetzig and junior Leah Hoffee posted an 8-3 victory, while Wetzig claimed 1 of Azusa Pacific’s singles wins with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Heidi Jackson at the No. 5 spot.

Freshman Molly Ruby took the other win for the Cougars at No. 6, edging Elizabeth McFeeters out in both of the set tiebreakers in a 7-6, 7-6 win.

A pair of tough defeats proved costly, both at the top positions in both singles and doubles play. First, at No. 1 doubles, senior Sheryl Bon-Bakalov and freshman Emily Harris took Fresno Pacific’s top tandem of Sara Celma and Marie Boura to a tiebreaker, surrendering all 7 points of the tiebreaker to the Sunbirds for a 9-8 defeat that gave Fresno Pacific the 2-1 lead heading into singles play.

Bon-Bakalov then went to 3 sets with Celma at No. 1 singles, splitting 6-3 decisions in the first 2 sets before concluding with a third-set tiebreaker that again went in Fresno Pacific’s favor by a narrow 2-point margin that gave Celma a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) win.

Harris also went to 3 sets at No. 4 singles against Yumiko Justin, winning the opening set and dropping the second by the same 6-2 margin. She was edged by Justin in the third set, 7-5. The other 3 singles matches were all decided in straight sets, with Fresno Pacific winning every set by at least a 3-game margin.

With the loss, Azusa Pacific falls to 5-1 overall, 2-1 GSAC, while Fresno Pacific’s perfect start continues with the Sunbirds now at 4-0 overall and 3-0 GSAC. The Cougars have completed the first half of a 4-match road stretch against GSAC opponents, which continues on Saturday, Feb. 26, with a 2:30 p.m. visit to No. 4-ranked Vanguard.