Notre Dame strides past NC State 4-1, heads to second round
ANN ARBOR, Mich. –- Notre Dame claimed the early advantage at doubles before winning the final three singles decisions of the day to defeat NC State 4-1 Friday in the first round of the NCAA championship at the Michigan Varsity Tennis Center.
The No. 24 Irish (18-8) swept consecutive decisions at the first and second doubles courts to take a 1-0 match lead. The 82nd-ranked tandem of Britney Sanders and Julie Sabacinski got Notre Dame off to a fast start at the second court, downing Elisa Hande and Nicole Martinez 8-4. No. 76 Jennifer Kellner and Chrissie McGaffigan clinched the opening point for the Irish at the first court with an 8-6 victory at first doubles against Joelle Kissell and Tatiana Illova.
A matchup at the third court between Notre Dame’s Quinn Gleason and Katherine White and NC State’s Chloe Smith and Sophie Nelson was not finished after the Irish claimed the doubles point.
NC State (14-10) squared the match at the fourth singles court at 1-1. Rachael James-Barker brought the Wolfpack back into the contest with a straight-set win, 6-2, 6-1, against Notre Dame’s McGaffigan.
The Irish would not lose a match the rest of the way, as Kellner got the winning started at No. 2 singles. Kellner swept Illova 7-6, 6-3 to vault Notre Dame on top 2-1. Gleason fell behind early in her match with Smith at third singles 4-6, but righted the contest with a 6-1 second set. The freshman continued her impressive rookie season by closing out Smith 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 to give the Irish a 3-1 advantage.
A three-set battle between Sanders and Kissell ensued at the No. 1 court, with the Notre Dame product taking a 6-3 advantage after one frame. Kissell responded with an identical 6-3 result in set two to send the battle to the third and deciding set. Sanders secured the match point for the Irish with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win.