Georgia survives scare, defeats Pepperdine 4-2 to move on to semifinals
URBANA, Ill. -- Georgia moved into the semifinals of the NCAA championships with Saturday's 4-2 win against 11th-seeded Pepperdine. It marked the Bulldogs' sixth trip to the semifinals in the last eight seasons.
Georgia (26-4) responded from losing the doubles point as well as the first two completed first sets in singles to post wins at Nos. 2, 3, 5, and 6 to secure the victory. Junior Garrett Brasseaux provided the clinch for the consecutive match and fifth time this season.
"Our guys always come out and fight hard and we felt like we had a shot," head coach Manuel Diaz said. "Pepperdine is such a tough, deep team. It's hard to take four singles from them, so we had our work cut out for us. I thought we had the right guys to get it done and we took it one point at a time. After the doubles, the first sets didn't look very good, but our guys just stepped it up. It requires a lot of trust to do what they did and they knew they needed to play bigger. We're just excited to move on."
Georgia dropped the doubles point for just the eighth time in 29 tries in 2013, falling at Nos. 2 and 3. First off was Pepperdine's team of Mousheg Hovhannisyan and David Sofaer at line three, as they defeated Marco Nunez and Eric Diaz 8-4. The Waves got the clinching win and the point from the No. 2 team of Finn Tearney and Alex Sarkissian, winning 8-3 against Georgia's 15th-ranked pair of Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha. The match on court one was unfinished on serve at 5-4.
The Bulldogs and Waves then went on to split first sets in singles at three apiece. Georgia got on the board to tie things up at one as freshman Austin Smith posted a commanding win against Pepperdine's No. 107-ranked Tearney at No. 3 with a score of 6-2, 6-0. The Bulldogs won the next two matches to go up 3-1, both coming from players who lost their first sets, as 47th-ranked Pasha beat No. 62 Sarkissian 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 and Nunez came back to win in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 6, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) against Sofaer.
Pepperdine got its second point as 102nd-ranked Francis Alcantara overcame a first-set deficit to post a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 win against Hernus Pieters at No. 4, leaving just freshman Ben Wagland and Brasseaux on at court Nos. 1 and 5 for Georgia. While Wagland was on serve at 3-4 in the third, Brasseaux came through with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 thriller against Hovhannisyan to pick up his second clincher of the week.
Georgia now rides a 17-match winning streak and has won 21 of 22 matches dating back to Feb. 24. It is the program's longest streak since the 2007 national championship team went undefeated at 32-0.
The Bulldogs will meet the No. 2 seed Virginia in the semifinals on Monday.