Valparaiso advanced to the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament championship match for the second straight season and third time in four years on Friday morning, defeating Oral Roberts 4-0 in the semifinals at Match Point Tennis and Fitness Club in Griffith, Ind.
Valpo, the Mid-Con regular season champion and tournament's top seed, opened strong taking the doubles point for an early lead. The Crusaders' top team of Monika Danko (Northfield, Ill./New Trier H.S.) and Christina Scala (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South H.S.) rolled to an 8-0 victory over Adriana Garcia and Sonia Bailey. Rachel Janssen (Fort Wayne, Ind./Dwenger H.S.) and Jill Dierberg (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran South H.S.) wrapped up the opening point with an 8-4 win at second doubles over Jacquelyn Robles and Laine Sommer. Moments after the second doubles win, Whitney Chada (Downers Grove, Ill./North H.S.) and Kate Evangelist (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West H.S.) posted an 8-2 triumph against Deborah Skinstad and Amanda Beynon at the third spot.
The Brown and Gold continued its dominance after moving to singles action. Scala made quick work of Robles at the fourth spot 6-0, 6-2 and Evangelist did the same against Beynon 6-1, 6-0 at sixth singles to give the Crusaders a 3-0 lead. Janssen clinched the match for Valpo at first singles after notching her 6-3, 6-2 victory over Bailey to close action for the match. Valpo has now outscored conference foes 56-4 on the season.
The Crusaders also led two of the three matches that were halted when the contest was decided. Danko led 6-4, 4-1 over Garcia at the second spot while Chada had a 6-1, 5-1 lead on Skinstad at fifth singles. Sommer took the first set from Dierberg in a tie-break 7-6 (8-6) but Dierberg led set two 3-0 as the match drew to a close.
Valparaiso (14-4), winners of 11 straight contests, head into Saturday's championship match against Southern Utah, a 4-3 victor over IUPUI in Friday afternoon's other semifinal. The Thunderbirds rallied from 3-0 down to win the final two matches in three sets, including the clincher in a tie-break at first singles. Head coach Tim Maluga's Crusaders defeated the Thunderbirds 7-0 during the regular season. Saturday's contest is slated to begin at 12:45 p.m. at Match Point with the winner earning the Mid-Con's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Crusaders have never advanced to NCAA Tournament competition in school history.