COSTA MESA, Calif. -- A narrow 2-game doubles win proved to be the deciding point for the NAIA’s No. 7-ranked Azusa Pacific, as the Cougars pulled off a 5-4 upset of No. 4 Vanguard Saturday afternoon in Costa Mesa.
Azusa Pacific has won 4 in a row at Vanguard, and Saturday’s win hinged on a crucial No. 2 doubles match. The Cougars’ tandem of freshman Kim Koetterheinrich and junior Natalie McNall edged the Lions’ Anna Valingsten and Brittnie Furuvald, 9-7, following a split of 8-5 decisions in the No. 1 and 3 doubles matchups to give Azusa Pacific the 2-1 edge heading into singles play.
Freshman Molly Ruby extended the lead to 3-1 with a quick 6-0, 6-1 victory at No. 6 singles, and senior Casey Wetzig put the Cougars a point away from the match victory with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Furuvald at the No. 5 position.
Ruby and Wetzig are each a perfect 6-0 in singles play this year, and the pair is a combined 7-0 in GSAC matches. Wetzig and junior Leah Hoffee improved to 5-0 as a doubles team this season with an 8-5 victory at No. 3.
Vanguard kept the match alive with a win at the top singles spot, but freshman Emily Harris claimed another straight-set victory at No. 3, pulling away from Valingsten with a strong finish for a 6-2, 6-0 win that clinched the match. With the match outcome already sealed, Vanguard claimed the 2 remaining singles matches, both in 3 sets.
With the win, Azusa Pacific has now won its last 4 matches at Vanguard, and the Cougars improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in GSAC play. Vanguard falls to 2-1 overall, with all 3 of its contests this year in conference play.
The Cougars visit No. 10-ranked Concordia on Wednesday, March 2, ending a run of 4 consecutive road matches for Azusa Pacific, with the last 3 of them against NAIA Top-10 foes.