USC shuts down Washington State
Lao wins in singles, doubles to lead Trojans in Pac-12 opener
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- No. 4 USC captured its first Pac-12 win in its conference opener against Washington State. The Trojans took early control and stayed on task in working their way to a 6-1 win against the visiting Cougars on Saturday at Marks Stadium. The win puts the Women of Troy at an 11-2 overall mark with a 1-0 start to Pac-12 competition.
USC was all business in doubles play as the Trojans rattled off three decisive wins, sparked by Valeria Pulido and Zoe Scandalis' 8-1 dominance against WSU's Kankaras/Vasilieva on court one. Next door on court two, Danielle Lao and Alison Ramos topped Fournier/Luzina 8-2, and Kaitlyn Christian and Gabriella DeSimone followed suit just seconds later with an 8-2 win at the No. 3 spot to drum up some momentum going into singles play with a 1-0 Trojan lead.
Singles play wound up being a far tighter affair than the doubles scene, however. Kaitlyn Christian and Gabriella DeSimone were able to wrap up their WSU opponents in straight sets, but the rest of the Trojans got locked into longer matches. Chrisitan was the first to finish, notching a 6-1, 6-3 win against Andjela Kankaras on court three for the sophomore's fifth consecutive win and 20th of the season. DeSimone also rounded up a strong win on a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Ksenia Googe at the No. 4 position, and USC was up 3-0 in the match. Everything else was still very much up for grabs at that point with a smattering of third sets taking shape up and down the line. On court six, Valeria Pulido had struggled in the first and dropped into a hole before rallying back in the second to force a third set. She would take that head of second-set steam and power up in the third to bring home the win on a 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 comeback victory against Olga Musilovich, and the Trojan victory was in the books, albeit with several more matches pending.
Danielle Lao also had to overcome a first-set loss in her No. 2 singles battle with Elisabeth Fournier, and the Trojan junior proved up to the task, getting a late break to win the second and bring up a 10-point tiebreaker to decide things. Again, Lao found herself in a hole, and trailed 5-2 before rattling off four straight points to take the lead 6-5. When things got locked again at 7-7, Lao made won last winning push and wrapped up her 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (10-7) comeback to make it a 5-0 USC lead and extend her singles win streak out to 15 consecutive on her 20th win of the season. On court five, senior Alison Ramos regrouped from a tough second set to focus and overpower WSU's Elizaveta Luzina next, winning hers 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 for a lift to 6-0 for the Women of Troy. That left freshman Zoe Scandalis in a tough spot on court one against No. 72 Liudmila Vasilieva. Scandalis just couldn't catch a break in her third set, and Vasilieva pulled off the comeback to tally WSU's lone point of the match on a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 decision.