Georgia defeats No. 2 Ohio State
Fourth-ranked Bulldogs win four of final five matches to hold on
ATHENS, Ga. -- No. 4 Georgia bounced back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat second-ranked Ohio State 4-3 on Wednesday in non-conference action. The victory snapped a three-match dry spell for the Bulldogs in the series vs. the Buckeyes while improving Georgia to 14-1 on the season, including six consecutive wins dating back to Feb. 27.
The Buckeyes fall to 19-2 with the loss, suffering just their second loss of the season with their only previous setback of 2012 coming at the hand of No. 1 Southern California.
After Georgia lost doubles for just the fourth time this season, the Bulldogs secured wins at Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 6 singles -- with the clinch coming from senior Sadio Doumbia on court three.
“I am proud of the way we fought,” head coach Manuel Diaz said. “This was a very close match and could’ve gone either way. Hats off to Ohio State -- they played outstanding in doubles, and it was just a matter of a couple of points in about four or five matches. We played the most important points on the last couple courts really well, and it was great.”
Ohio State took a 1-0 lead with strong wins at Nos. 1 and 3 doubles. First off court was the top-ranked team of Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola, who downed No. 31 Ignacio Taboada and Hernus Pieters by an 8-3 score. The Buckeyes clinched the doubles point and the early lead with a win at No. 3, where 39th-ranked Devin McCarthy and Ille Van Engelen bested Wil Spencer and KU Singh 8-6.
Georgia pulled out an 8-7 (7-0) win at No. 2 doubles as 52nd-ranked Doumbia and Nathan Pasha defeated Peter Kobelt and Connor Smith to improve to 4-1 on the season in dual matches.
With Georgia needing the four singles wins for the comeback, the Buckeyes pushed their lead to 2-0 as sixth-ranked Rola defeated No. 8 Spencer 6-3, 6-2, at No. 1 singles.
Georgia picked up its first point of the day on court two, as 50th-ranked Singh pulled off a straight-set win against No. 12 Buchanan 7-5, 6-4, to cut the lead in half at 2-1. No. 29 Taboada then evened the score at 2-2 as he knocked off No. 107 Van Engelen, 6-2, 7-6(5) after going down an early break in the second set, but Ohio State came back to retake the lead with a win at No. 5 as 79th-ranked McCarthy defeated No. 70 Pieters, 7-6(5), 6-2. Taboada’s win was his sixth in a row and team-best 14th in dual match play.
That left just three and six on with Georgia needing to take both matches for the win and Pasha trailing 4-2 in the third set. But the freshman again pulled it out under pressure, and evened the score at 3-3 as he went 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-4 against Connor Smith at No. 6. That improved Pasha to 12-1 in dual matches.
On the final court, 20th-ranked Doumbia was leading 4-1 in the third, and with the match on the line pulled it out against No. 46 Kobelt to seal the 4-3 victory for the Bulldogs, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-1.
“It feels good,” Doumbia said. “I am glad to win it for my team. This feels like the best day of my life. I am so happy right now. We knew the competition would be good -- this team is ranked No. 2 and we knew it would be a tough match. We knew [after losing doubles] that we could still win at all six spots and we pulled it out.”
Georgia is now 7-1 on the season vs. top-25 competition and 3-1 vs. the top-10. Entering Wednesday, the Buckeyes had won 61 of their last 62 regular-season road matches and 36 of their last 38 matches overall.