AZUSA, Calif. -- The NAIA’s No. 5-ranked Azusa Pacific posted an 8-1 win Friday afternoon over NCAA Div. II’s No. 15-ranked Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University, an impressive victory that gave the Cougars their second 5-match winning streak of the season. Four of the 5 wins in Azusa Pacific’s current streak have come against teams ranked nationally in the top 25.
By starting with a doubles sweep for the fourth straight match, Azusa Pacific was able to clinch the team victory with a pair of straight-set wins in the top 2 spots in the singles lineup. Senior Sheryl Bon-Bakalov provided the clinching win at No. 1 singles with a 6-2, 6-4 result over Grand Canyon’s Cecilia Vergnet. Junior Natalie McNall claimed her fifth No. 2 singles win of the year by posting a 6-0, 7-5 victory.
The Cougars added another victory, a 3-set No. 4 singles win for freshman Emily Harris, to extend its lead to 6-0 in the match before Grand Canyon posted its lone point with a No. 3 singles win. Juniors Leah Hoffee and Casey Wetzig both won in straight sets at the No. 5 and 6 positions to round out the match.
McNall and freshman Molly Ruby scored an 8-1 win at No. 3 doubles, helping the Cougars to their seventh doubles sweep of the season. Azusa Pacific is 26-4 in doubles matches this year, and McNall and Ruby are 4-0 together. Another unbeaten Cougar tandem of Hoffee and Wetzig, posted an 8-5 win at No. 2 doubles to remain perfect with a 7-0 doubles mark. Bon-Bakalov and Harris were the other doubles winners, claiming the top doubles match by an 8-3 margin.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 10-1 overall, while Grand Canyon drops to 8-2. The Cougars host a pair of non-conference opponents next week, taking on NAIA No. 19 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) on Monday, March 14, followed by a Wednesday, March 16 matchup with NCAA Div. II No. 50-ranked Midwestern State (Texas). Azusa Pacific wraps up next week with a return to GSAC play, when the Cougars visit NAIA No. 3 and unbeaten-to-date Point Loma Nazarene on Friday, March 18.