Laurente

CARY, N.C. -- For the first time since 2009, Miami (Fla.) will be competing in the ACC championship game after upsetting top-seeded and No. 2-ranked North Carolina 4-3 at the Cary Tennis Center on Saturday.

“We played with such heart,” Miami head coach Paige Yaroshuk-Tews said. “UNC pushes you to a different level physically and [Saturday] we responded. Our girls never quit. They believed for four and a half hours.”

Freshman Kelsey Laurente, Miami’s 91st-ranked singles player, broke a 3-3 score and sealed the gritty win for the Canes at No. 2 with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win against the Tar Heels’ 44th-ranked Zoe De Bruycker. The match was the last of three three-set singles bouts on the day.

It was the fourth three-set win on the year for Laurente and her third against a ranked opponent.

“This win was earned the hard way… Miami style,” Yaroshuk-Tews said.

After the Canes earned the doubles point, the Tar Heels evened the score as Tessa Lyons took a 6-2, 6-2 win from Melissa Bolivar, snapping her singles win streak at 10.

The teams continued the back-and-forth battle on court No. 4 as Miami freshman Clementina Riobueno gave her team a 2-1 lead, dismantling UNC’s 56th-ranked Caroline Price 6-4, 6-4. She improved her singles record to 22-3 in the spring.

UNC pulled even once again at two after Lauren McHale’s 6-3, 6-4 win at No. 5 versus Monique Albuquerque.

Sophomore Lina Lileikite pulled off another upset, defeating 36th-ranked Whitney Kay 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to give Miami a 3-2 lead in the match.

However, North Carolina pulled even again as seventh-ranked Gina Suarez-Malaguti won in three sets against UM’s 60th-ranked freshman, Stephanie Wagner, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Two of three doubles matches went to a tie break, before the point was finally decided on court No. 2.

The No. 3 team of Wagner and Brittany Dubins has been victorious in each of their three matches together, including Saturday’s 8-6 win against the UNC tandem of Lyons and Suarez-Malaguti.

The Tar Heels evened the doubles tally on court No. 1, completing the first match to be decided by tie break, narrowly escaping the UM team of Riobueno and Albuquerque 9-8 (4).

However, after coming from behind, Miami’s Laurente and Bolivar forced their own tie break and then dominated, blanking Price and Kay 9-8 (0).

“We need to rest and not get too excited,” Yaroshuk-Tews said. “[Sunday] is a new day with another tough opponent in front of us. We will be ready.”

Related:
Conference Championship Central