STARKVILLE, Miss. — For the second match in a row, Baylor’s fate rested squarely on the shoulders of Julian Bley. It took him seven match points but the senior came through and the Bears upset ninth-ranked and No. 9 seed Mississippi State 4-3, advancing to the NCAA tournament round of 16 for the 11th consecutive year and 13th time in 15 NCAA appearances.
The match, which began at 10 a.m., was halted due to rain early in singles competition. After a delay of over an hour, it was decided to move competition to Mississippi State’s two indoor courts. Play resumed at 3 p.m., two matches at a time.
Earlier, Baylor claimed the doubles point when Kike Grangeiro and Roberto Maytin downed Louis Cant and Malte Stropp 8-6 and Bley and Marko Krickovic defeated Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson 9-8, winning the tiebreaker 7-1.
Once play resumed indoors, courts one and two played first. MSU’s James Chaudry evened the score at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Maytin at No. 2. Baylor countered with a triumph at the top spot by Mate Zsiga against Artem Ilyushin 7-5, 6-3. Krickovic gave BU a 3-1 lead with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against Stropp at No. 3 singles.
The Bulldogs claimed the next two points, evening the score at 3-3, with wins at No. 5 and 4, singles, respectively. Grangeiro fell to Cant 6-4, 6-2 and George Coupland defeated Diego Galeano in three sets. Coupland won the first set 6-2 but Galeano rebounded to take the second 6-2. However, Coupland posted a 6-4 third-set win.
When play saw suspended at approximately 1:05, Bley and Zach White, playing at No. 6, were tied 6-6 in the first set and 3-3 in the tiebreaker. They finally got back on the court around 5:30 p.m. to resume play. Bley ended up claiming the first set 7-6, winning the tiebreak 7-5.
The two evenly matched players dueled to another tiebreak in the second set. Bley never trailed in the tiebreak and had seven match points before finally claiming the victory. Bley caught a break when, with the score tied 10-10, White double faulted then hit a forehand long to give Bley the 12-10 win.