The Tribe (3-3, 2-0 CAA) fell 5-2 in a gritty match against no. 33 Ohio State Friday evening in Williamsburg.
“We competed very hard, which is expected for us. I just feel like we didn’t have an edge,” Head Coach Meredith Geiger-Walton said.
To start the match, the College was only able to grab one doubles victory, provided by senior Carmen Pop and freshman Anik Cepeda in the Tribe’s no. 2 slot. The duo trailed 6-2 in the early stages of the match, but snagged six straight games en route to a 8-6 comeback victory.
The Tribe’s no. 1 pair, filled by senior Ragini Acharya and junior Lauren Sabacinski, saw a different fate, falling 8-2. Late in the match, play was briefly paused when Acharya experienced a hip-flexor pull and back spasm injury. The senior overcame the injury and finished the match.
The College’s no. 3 team, headed by sophomore Katie Kargl and freshman Marlen Mesgarzadeh held an early lead behind solid play, but were unable to finish, falling 8-5.
The Tribe’s singles effort was highlighted by victories from Pop and Mesgarzadeh. Pop improved to 10-7 on the year with the 6-2, 7-6 (5) win from the College’s no. 4 spot.
“I was staying patient, and when I had the opportunity to close in, I would try to finish the point,” Pop said.
Playing in the no. 3 slot, Mesgarzadeh dropped her first set 6-1, but battled back to take a marathon second set 7-6 (11). The freshman faced a 2-1 deficit when her Buckeye counterpart attempted to lob a shot over the charging Mesgarzadeh. Tracking the ball while retreating, Mesgarzadeh beautifully backhanded a finisher to sway the momentum back into her favor. She would go on to take the next five games to clinch the third set and the match.
Acharya, competing in the College’s no. 1 position, faced a tough opponent in Ohio State’s no. 35 Kirsten Flowers. The Tribe senior was unable to find success, drawing consecutive set losses, 6-2, 6-2.
Cepeda saw a similar story play out at the no. 6 slot for the College, unable to continue her earlier doubles success, losing 6-3, 6-0.
The Tribe’s no. 2 player, freshman Nina Vulovich, in singles action, struggled through an error-ridden first set, falling 6-1. But, finding her stroke, Vulovich stole the second set 6-2, pushing the match to a decisive third set. After falling behind 5-3 in final set, a match-point rally found Vulovich firing a crosscourt shot that Ohio State’s Paloma Escobedo had to lay out to barely return, leaving Vulovich with a clear court to save match-point. But, Vulovich only found the top of the net, watching the ball fall back to the freshman’s side, losing the point and the match.
Sabacinski, who relies on using the entire court to out-finesse her opponents, was unable to do so in losing an exhausting 3-6, 7-5, 10-3 match, which drops her season ledger to 6-8.
The College will take on Florida International on Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. in the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, a rescheduled match from Monday.