Sports in Brief
Following a 7-0 defeat in their home opener to a strong Mississippi squad, UCI women’s tennis (0-2) lost by a narrow 4-3 margin to a visiting Grand Canyon at Anteater Stadium on Saturday.
Freshmen Constance Branstine and Stephanie Nguyen were able to prevail in number one doubles 7-5, but not before the teams of juniors Hali Dickson and Vivien Dvali and senior Cassidy Branstine and sophomore Stephanie Hazell lost their matches along with the doubles point to GCU.
Cassidy Branstine was bested in flight four singles by GCU’s Celina Buhr 6-2, 6-2, but Dvali answered back in flight two to put the ‘Eaters on the board by way of a 6-4, 6-2 score over Alexandra Petrzalkov.
Junior Ashlynn Hall could not contain Antelope Emilia Occhipinti, falling 6-1, 6-3 in flight six before Susan Baklini handed Nguyen a tough three-set loss 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 to clinch the match for GCU.
Hazell avenged her doubles defeat with a triumph over Lana Rinaldi at number five singles, 7-6, 0-6, 7-6, and Constance Branstine rounded out the action with a highly contested, come-from-behind flight one singles victory 2-6, 7-6, 2-2 (10-6) to produce the 4-3 final.
The ‘Eaters’ Sunday match was cancelled due to rain, and they will be back in action next Sunday to host San Diego State.
Women’s Indoor Track
UCI women’s indoor track opened their season at the Lumberjack Team Challenge at Northern Arizona University, where they sent 20 athletes to compete at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome.
Senior Megan George led the ‘Eaters by breaking her own school record for the 60-meter hurdles with an altitude-adjusted time of 8.44, a full tenth of a second faster than the 8.54 she ran at the MPSF Championships last year. Junior Tyra Jones placed seventh in the same event with a personal best 8.77, good for fourth in school history.
In the 60-meter dash, junior Persis William-Mensah finished third and nearly eclipsed another school record with a time of 7.51, coming within .02 of the mark she set last year. Two other ‘Eaters finished top 10 in the event, as George placed seventh (7.72) and sophomore Hope Bushnell was ninth (7.77).
In her collegiate debut, freshman Anastasia Karnaze led all ‘Eaters in the mile with a time of 5:14.39, good for a fifth-place finish and seventh best time in program history.
Sophomore Barbara Coward made her indoor track debut and had the fourth best weight throw in her event, becoming only the second ‘Eater ever to surpass the 50-foot mark with a distance of 55-00.25.
Senior Ariel Cheng took second overall in the pole vault with a height of 11-11.75, and senior Melanie Speech placed seventh in shot put (39-11.25)
The UCI Men’s soccer team has hired Yossi Raz, formerly of Cal Poly Pomona, as the fourth head coach in the program’s 34-year history.
Raz went 58-17-12 in four years at Pomona, and earned the California Collegiate Athletic Association Coach of the Year award in 2014 after winning the conference and the postseason tournament.
He followed that up by guiding the Broncos to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances including a runner-up finish in 2015 and reaching the third round in 2016.
With his roots in the Big West, Raz spent four years as a student-athlete at CSUN, where he made First Team All-Big West every year including Big West Freshman of the Year. In 2005, he began a nine-year stint as assistant coach for the Matadors that saw CSUN secure their only DI NCAA Tournament win.
Raz not only has a reputation for improving soccer programs but also harboring a strong academic environment emphasizing high GPAs and graduation rates. As an academically-minded student, he was President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council and carried over that attitude as he joined the coaching ranks.
He will take over for Chris Volk, whose contract was not renewed after missing the playoffs last season.