LAS VEGAS — UNLV pulled off the biggest upset in program history on Wednesday with a 4-3 shocker against short-handed Tennessee — the 12th-ranked team in the nation.
The Lady Rebels improved to 9-5 while the Volunteers, who were ranked as high as fifth just last month, fell to 11-6.
The previous highest-ranked team the UNLV women defeated was No. 17 William & Mary on March 6, 2002.
Tennessee started out by sweeping three doubles courts for a 1-0 lead. The match became tied as soon as the teams reported for singles play, however, because the Vols only could field five players after multiple injuries in their lineup. That gave UNLV a point on court six where Ella Bourchier was awarded a forfeit victory.
The hosts then took the lead when Nives Pavlovic won at the third spot after Caitlyn Williams retired while trailing 4-3 in the first set. UNLV upped its advantage to 3-1 when No. 125 Aleksandra Josifoska finished off Sarah Toti 6-2, 6-2 at the second position. UT then picked up a win on court four.
The match came down to the top of the lineup where No. 57 Lucia Batta battled No. 37 Kata Szekely. Batta took the first set 6-3 but lost the second in a close tiebreaker. She trailed 2-0 in the decisive third set before winning six consecutive games to give her and her team wins with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 final. The sophomore standout improved to 13-1 in dual matches this season and 23-7 overall. UT then closed out the final match in three sets on court five for its third point.
“Today saw a tremendous effort by our players after losing the doubles point,” head coach Kevin Cory said. “They came back and pulled off a big upset against one of the nation’s best teams. Now we have a big challenge ahead this weekend as we begin our conference schedule.”