The 33rd-ranked Northwestern Wildcats lived up to the hype Saturday evening as they beat Valpo 7-0 in Evanston.
The No. 2 doubles team of Chris Baum and Danny Oakes managed four games against the pairing of Raleigh Smith and Chris Jackman. Michael Baiocchi and Michael Savaglio dropped their match at No. 3 doubles 8-1, surrendering the doubles point.
Despite the Wildcats' impressive ranking, Valpo's No. 1 and 2 singles held their own. Baum took Spencer Wolf to three sets before falling 7-6, 1-6, 7-9. Eric Honert, at No. 1, fell to Smith, the 108th-ranked singles player in the country, 2-6, 5-7.
"Chris and Eric played extraordinarly well in their singles matches. They pushed (Smith and Wolf) to their limits. A couple pivotal points in both their matches could have gone either way," head coach Jim Daugherty said.
Baiocchi, Savaglio, and freshman Lucas Waak all dropped their matches 2-6, 2-6 at No. 3, 4, 5 respectively.
Freshman Brian Hickey, who had exhibited considerable improvement as of late, dropped his match 0-6, 1-6 to Jackman.
Daugherty felt the exposure can pay dividends to a young squad down the road.
"Overall, it was a good experience for us. There's a lot we can take away from this," Daugherty concluded.
With the loss, Valpo's record slips to 4-2; Northwestern improved to 9-4.
The Crusaders' next match is scheduled for Friday, February 15th in Kalamazoo versus Western Michigan.