May 15, 2010

Courtesy of Northwestern Athletics

EVANSTON, Ill. -- For the seventh consecutive season, Northwestern is one of the last 16 teams in the country still playing for a national title thanks to a 4-0 defeat of 37th-ranked Nebraska in the second round of the NCAA Championships Saturday in Evanston. The sixth-seeded 'Cats depart this week for the University of Georgia where it will face Miami (Fla.) Thursday in the round of 16.

Northwestern improved to 26-20 all-time in the NCAA Championships with the victory, which freshman Linda Abu Mushrefova clinched with a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 5 singles.

"I was impressed with Nebraska, they definitely pushed us today and winning 4-0 is deceiving," said head coach Claire Pollard. "Our young players got a little taste this weekend of what this experience is like but it only gets tougher, so hopefully they'll be ready for it."

All three doubles matches were even in the early going, but for the second day in a row the host Wildcats were able to wear down their opponents at the No. 2 and 3 positions. At No. 3, Samantha Murray and Kate Turvy broke a 3-3 tie by winning the last five games to defeat Nebraska's Mary Weatherholt and Jennifer Holmberg 8-3, improving to 15-2 in dual matches this season in the process.

Not long after that win, Maria Mosolova and Elena Chernyakova completed their own impressive spurt, coming back from down 4-3 to knock off Wiveca Swarting and Janine Weinreich by an 8-4 score.

Saturday was the 22nd time in 29 dual matches that Northwestern won the doubles point to carry a 1-0 lead into singles play.

Needing three singles wins to secure its spot in the round of 16, Northwestern came up against a Nebraska lineup exhibiting the same type of fight it showed in its gritty opening-round win over Illinois -- the first NCAA Championship win in Husker history. Only Lauren Lui, playing her final home match as a Wildcat, was able to open up a sizable first-set lead in overcoming Swarting 6-1. Lui stayed on top of her game in the second set, taking a 4-1 lead and holding on 6-3 for her 20th dual win this season.

Freshman Kate Turvy continued her strong play of late, defeating Stefanie Weinstein 6-3, 6-1 at No. 4 to extend her winning streak to eight matches and give NU its third team point.

Also taking a tight first set was Abu Mushrefova at No. 5 as the freshman held off a comeback attempt by Janine Weinreich to win it 6-4. After seizing a 3-2 lead in the second, Abu Mushrefova raced down the stretch to take the set 6-2 and become the only NU player to finish and win both her singles matches on the weekend.

Samantha Murray joined Lui in playing her final home contest for Northwestern, rebounding from a slow start against Madeleine Geibert to jump to a 5-1 lead in the second set and closing it out at 6-2. Murray and Geibert were tied at one in the third when her match was abandoned after the clinching fourth point came in for NU.

Northwestern has not faced Miami (Fla.) since the quarterfinals of the 2009 ITA National Indoor Team Championship, a 6-1 victory for NU. The Wildcats are attempting to reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships for the fourth time in five years.

"It's been exciting so far," Turvy said. "I think the tough schedule we played throughout the season really prepared us for good opponents in the NCAAs. The fact that the tournament is single elimination adds a different element to it but I think it's more exciting than nerve-wracking."

No. 6 Northwestern 4, No. 37 Nebraska 0

1: #13 Maria Mosolova (NU) vs. #77 Mary Weatherholt (NEB), 6-7 (4), 3-0 unf.
2: #41 Samantha Murray (NU) vs. Madeleine Geibert (NEB), 1-6, 6-2, 1-1 unf.
3: Lauren Lui (NU) def. Wiveca Swarting (NEB), 6-1, 6-3
4: Kate Turvy (NU) def. Stefanie Weinstein (NEB), 6-3, 6-1
5: Linda Abu Mushrefova (NU) def. Janine Weinreich (NEB), 6-4, 6-2
6: Stacey Lee (NU) vs. Jennifer Holmberg (NEB), 7-5, 1-2 unf.

1: Abu Mushrefova/Lui (NU) vs. Geibert/Weinstein (NEB), 5-6
2: Chernyakova/Mosolova (NU) def. Swarting/Weinreich (NEB), 8-4
3: Murray/Turvy (NU) def. Holmberg/Weatherholt (NEB), 8-3

Order of Finish
Singles (3, 4, 5*)
Doubles (3, 2*)