Valparaiso is set for a repeat trip to the NCAA Women's Tennis Championships after defeating IUPUI 4-1 Saturday afternoon at the Valparaiso University Tennis Complex to win the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Championship.
Head coach Tim Maluga's Crusaders earned the league's automatic bid into the NCAAs with the tournament victory. Valpo has now won two consecutive conference tournament titles to go along with three straight regular season championships.
IUPUI (17-8), the tournament's second seed, proved to be a formidable foe, taking the doubles point to open the contest. Mallory Stemle and Alison Thompson defeated Rachel Janssen (Fort Wayne, Ind./Dwenger H.S.) and Kim Sajevic (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury H.S.) at first doubles 8-3 to kick off the championship. Jessie Ritchie and Tessa Williams clinched the point for the Jaguars with their 8-2 victory over Jill Dierberg (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran South H.S.) and Charmaine Stanislaw (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville H.S.) at third doubles.
The Crusaders' second doubles duo of Kate Evangelist (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West H.S.) and Whitney Chada (Downers Grove, Ill./North H.S.) led Andrea Burkhardt and Nikki Evans 6-3 when they halted play due to IUPUI having clinched the point.
The Brown and Gold bounced back in singles action, capturing the first set in each of the six matches. Sajevic put the first point on the board for the Crusaders, defeating IUPUI's Vanessa Carna at sixth singles 6-1, 6-3. Dierberg followed shortly thereafter with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Ritchie at the second spot to give Valpo the lead.
Janssen brought the Crusaders to within one point of the title with her hard-fought victory over Stemle at the top of the lineup, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. Evangelist then clinched the back-to-back championships mere minutes later, winning over Williams 6-2, 7-5 at fourth singles.
The last two matches in progress were halted once the team title was determined. Chada took the first set at third singles 6-3, but Thompson won the second set in a tiebreak 7-6 (3) and led 5-2 in the third set. Stanislaw won the first set from Burkhardt at fifth singles 7-5, but dropped the second set 6-1. The third set was all square at 2-2 when the match was stopped.
Valparaiso (15-7) will learn its first round opponent in the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday, May 3. The women's selection announcement is scheduled to take place at approximately 7:45 p.m. CDT, and will air live on ESPNEWS. First and second round action is held at campus sites beginning Friday, May 12.