North Carolina takes down second-seeded Alabama to head to semifinals
ATHENS, Ga. -- North Carolina took down second-seeded Alabama 4-2 on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA championship at Henry Field Stadium. Seventh-seeded North Carolina (28-5) will play 11th seed and defending national champion Stanford at 1 p.m. ET Monday in the semifinals.
"Doubles were really key today," UNC head coach Brian Kalbas said. "Whitney [Kay] and Caroline [Price] came through for us. We played the best three doubles match of the year so hopefully this will give us momentum going into the next round.
It was full of drama, but Carolina was able to win the doubles point against Alabama to earn the early 1-0 advantage.
Kalbas made a calculated decision to switch up the lineup on court No. 3 with Ashley Dai and Tessa Lyons. That paid immediate dividends with a 8-2 victory against the duo of Emily Zabor and Luicelena Perez.
On court No. 1, Hayley Carter and Jamie Loeb lost 8-5 to Erin Routliffe and Maya Jansen. It marked the first loss for the Tar Heel freshmen in a dual match all season long.
The point came down to court No. 2 between Carolina's of Whitney Kay and Caroline Price and Alabama's Danielle Spielmann and Mary Anne Daines.
Kay and Price jumped out early to a 4-1 lead, but the Crimson Tide ran off the next three points to knot the match at 4-4. Alabama took a 6-5 lead, but Kay held serve to make it 6-6. Price did the same down 7-6 to send it to a tiebreaker to decide the doubles point.
UNC led 4-1 in the tiebreaker before it tightened up to 6-5 in favor of the Tar Heels, but a ball hit long by Alabama gave Carolina a reason to cheer by winning the critical doubles point.
In singles, Loeb and Kate Vialle earned straight-set wins on court Nos. 1 and 5, respectively, to give Carolina a 3-1 lead against the Crimson Tide. The advantage shrunk to 3-2, but Carter clinched the match with a three-set win on court No. 2, which just so happened to be on her 19th birthday.
Alabama tied the match 1-1 with a victory on court No. 4, but Loeb picked up her 49th win of the year with a 6-2, 6-3, win against No. 65 Daines.
Vialle made it 3-1 with a 6-1, 6-4, win against Zabor.
Carter, up a set, gave away the second, but stormed back with a 6-2 victory in the decisive third set to send the Tar Heels into the semifinals for the first time since 2010.