Valparaiso will look to defend its Mid-Continent Conference Tournament title on Saturday morning after the Crusaders defeated Southern Utah 4-0 at the Valparaiso University Tennis Complex on Friday.
Valpo, the tournament's top seed and Mid-Con regular season champion, has reached the championship match for the third straight year, having won it last season after defeating Southern Utah in the title tilt.
The Crusaders had to rally to win the doubles point on Friday against the Thuderbirds, something the Brown and Gold did not do during the regular season meeting between the two schools. Southern Utah (7-10) earned an early 8-2 victory at first doubles as Liliana Cortes and Lelia Kanuha defeated Rachel Janssen (Fort Wayne, Ind./Dwenger H.S.) and Kim Sajevic (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury H.S.).
Valpo tied up doubles at the third spot as Jill Dierberg (Saint Louis, Mo./Lutheran South H.S.) and Charmaine Stanislaw (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville H.S.) defeated Casie Brooks and Emmi Nelson 8-6. The Crusaders then clinched the point at second doubles when Kate Evangelist (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West H.S.) and Whitney Chada (Downers Grove, Ill./North H.S.) downed Veronica Cortes and Lisseth Hoyos 8-4.
Sajevic made it 2-0 Valpo at sixth singles with an easy 6-0, 6-0 victory over Brooks. Dierberg put the Crusaders on the verge of the championship match at the second spot, defeating Kanuha 6-2, 6-3. Janssen then clinched Valpo's trip to Saturday's match with a 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Liliana Cortes at the top of the order. Chada led Hoyos 7-5 and Evangelist had a 6-2, 2-1 lead over Cortes at third and fourth singles respectively when their matches were stopped. The Thunderbirds' Nelson led Stanislaw 6-3, 1-2 when play was halted at fifth singles.
Valparaiso (14-7) will look for back-to-back tournament titles and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on Saturday morning against IUPUI, a 4-2 victor over Oral Roberts on Friday afternoon. Valpo defeated the Jaguars 5-2 in the regular season. The championship is set for 10 a.m. at the Valparaiso University Tennis Complex.