California (Pa.) Athletics

GRANVILLE, Ohio  – Facing the fifth-ranked ranked team in NCAA Division III, No. 8 California (Pa.) won four of six singles matches on Friday evening to earn a 6-3 victory against Denison.

With the win, the Vulcans improved to 7-1 overall this season with a 3-1 mark during the spring campaign. The match marked the season opener for the Big Red, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament and finished 18-5 last year.

Cal U took an early 2-1 lead by winning two doubles matches. Juniors Annabel Pieschl and Franziska Steinhardt suffered an 8-5 loss at first doubles to Denison’s Erin Chadwell and Kristin Cobb. At the second position, juniors Axelle Fernandez and Anastassiya Zherdeva claimed an 8-3 victory against Jane Lent and Alex Marcell. Senior Laurie Navarro and sophomore Jade Pondicas dealt Kelsey Geppner and Sarah Short an 8-6 defeat at third doubles.

Pieschl, the No. 20 singles player in the country, recorded a 6-1, 6-0 win against Cobb at No. 1 singles, while Steinhardt posted a straight-set victory at the second slot against Chadwell, 6-0, 6-3. Zherdeva fell to Short in the third singles slot by a 7-5, 6-1 margin.

At the fourth position, No. 42 Pondicas rallied for a three-set victory against Marcell, 0-6, 6-3, 6-2. Fernandez collected a 6-2, 7-6 win against the Big Red’s Kate Westenberger at the No. 5 singles spot, while regionally-ranked Geppner topped Navarro at the sixth position, 6-1, 6-2.