Anteaters Revive Playoff Hopes

Sophia Chang/New University

UCI 6, LMU 1

The blustering winds proved to be a mere nuisance as UC Irvine defeated Loyola Marymount University 6-1 in their final homestand, improving their overall record to 9-10.

“It was really difficult conditions,” Coach Mike Edles said. “[The wind] was swirling around today. It was very unpredictable. I was very pleased with how the players handled the weather. Obviously it was tough on both sides but maybe we’ve handled it better and that shows strength and character of our team.”

UCI opened the match with a sweep in the doubles competition. Becka Kwan and Hannah Holladay were in-sync as they battled their way to an 8-4 win. Meanwhile, Courtney Byron and Kristina Smith won their set with ease, as did Franziska Goettsching and Miranda Young, taming the Lions 8-2 and 8-1, respectively. Despite dominating the doubles sets to grab a 1-0 lead, the Anteaters knew winning the singles competition would not be an easy task.

As the singles matches began, the winds blew fiercely in every direction, giving the balls unpredictable movements. In Court 1, Byron fell first, losing 6-3 and 6-2, but Kwan, Holladay and Schweyer won their matches to give UCI a 4-1 lead. Goettsching had a hard time getting comfortable with the weather, losing her first set 4-6, but she bounced back and dominated with 6-1 and 6-2 on the next two sets. The match ended with Kristina Smith winning her last two sets with grit after losing her first set 3-6.

“Today, all of us played pretty well. It was really tough conditions but we all adjusted well and pulled it off together,” Kwan said. “I believe this is a very strong indicator for the road games.”

UCI will play their remaining three conference matches of the season on the road.

“We’re going to pretty much train the way we’ve been doing. We’ve been focusing on our fitness and conditioning level,” Edles said. “We’re going to continue to prepare physically and mentally. We need to be mentally prepared for the next three matches because they’re conference matches. We know these are all tough matches, but we are already motivated.”

UCI 5, CSUN 2

No. 60 UC Irvine won their third straight on Friday afternoon at Anteater Stadium, defeating the Cal State Northridge Matadors, 5-2. The win improved their record to 10-10 overall and 3-3 in the Big West, keeping their hopes up for a potential return to the NCAA Tournament.

Although the ’Eaters lost both the singles and doubles No. 1 matches, the core of the team picked up the slack. Junior Courtney Byron lost to Brooke Doane 7-5, 6-4 in No. 1 singles. Senior Becka Kwan and junior Hannah Holladay lost the No. 1 doubles matchup 8-4.

Kwan and Holladay both made up for their doubles loss with wins in No. 2 and No. 5 singles, respectively. Kwan narrowly escaped with a 7-5, 7-6(3) two-set victory. Holladay defeated  Matador Lorraine Cheung 6-3, 6-4.

Byron and sophomore Kristina Smith defeated the Matadors’ No. 2 doubles tandem, 8-6. Smith also pulled her weight in No. 3 singles, winning 6-4, 6-4. Freshman Franziska Goettsching took an 8-5 singles match over CSUN’s No. 4 Nigora Sirojiddinova, while senior Hayley Young struggled in the No. 6 match. Young was handled 6-0, 6-1 by the Matadors’ Anna Yang.

The Anteaters will travel to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and UC Santa Barbara over the weekend to face the Mustangs and Gauchos on April 16 and 17.