Senior Lauren Sabacinski hadn’t beaten Virginia Commonwealth since
2008, and despite losing her first set against VCU’s Daria Yakavleva,
Sabacinski wasn’t about to finish her collegiate career without ending
the Tribe’s drought against its main rival.
Sabacinski fought back in the second set, forcing a tiebreak against
her Rams counterpart, and then dominated the third set to provide the
clinching point in the College’s thrilling 4-3 upset of the No. 31
Rams in Richmond Wednesday.
“It’s a great, quality win,” head coach Meredith Geiger-Walton said.
“It helps that [VCU] is our rival, it makes things a little sweeter,
and especially since we lost to them last year in the CAA Finals. This
is my third year as coach, and since I took over we hadn’t beaten VCU,
so it feels really good to get that win under our belt.”
The victory moves the Tribe’s record to 12-8 overall, 1-0 in the CAA,
and with a victory tonight over Old Dominion, the College would secure
the top seed in next week’s CAA Championships.
Although the Tribe was close throughout the majority of the afternoon,
it never would have beaten VCU without Sabacinski’s rousing 3-6, 7-6,
6-2 victory in the No. 5 position.
“Lauren really stood out because she clinched the match,”
Geiger-Walton said. “She sank two match points in her second set
tiebreaker and then pulled it out to get a third-set victory, which
clinched it for us.”
The Tribe’s upset began early as the College captured the doubles
point. Although freshman Hope Johnson and sophomore Anik Cepeda fell
in a hard-fought affair to VCU’s Alex Bara and Kateryna Yerginam, 9-8,
the Tribe’s two other doubles teams defeated their VCU counterparts.
Junior Katie Kargl and sophomore Marlen Mesgarzadeh downed Ana Bara
and Josefin Hjertquist 8-5 at the No. 2 spot while freshman Jeltje
Loomans and Sabacinski defeated Yakavleva and Manuela, 8-2 to clinch
the doubles point for the Tribe.
“The girl Merlen played at No. 2 had been playing No. 1 for VCU all
season,” Geiger-Walton said. “Merlen had made a decision after our
loss to U.Va. back in March that she wasn’t going to lose another
match, and she has pretty much held up to that … She just went out
there on a mission and she was in the zone.”
While the College glided through the doubles portion with relative
ease, the singles portion was much more challenging. The results were
split between the two schools for the majority of the singles portion.
Alex Bara defeated Johnson in a close 7-5, 7-6 match at the No. 1
position, while Mesgarzadeh evened the count by defeating Yergina,
6-2, 6-3, giving the Tribe a 2-1 advantage.
Hjertquist then defeated Loomans 6-3, 6-4, at the No. 3 post, but
Cepeda prevailed at the No. 4 position, dominating Ana Bara, 6-3, 6-3.
After VCU’s Olga Terteac snuck past Kargl in a three-set 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
win, it became apparent that the match would come down to the outcome
of Sabacinski’s battle at the No. 5 post.
“I was so proud of the way the team competed,” Geiger-Walton said.
“[We had] the expectation to win, the willingness to battle and do
what it takes to stay out there, and we did it with confident
attitudes … It was very rewarding to see the results of what we did in