Lynn holds off Abilene Christian
Knights win four singles matches to finish come back
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Lynn surmounted at 2-1 deficit after doubles to defeat No. 11 Abilene Christian 5-3 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament on Thursday.
“I really have to hand it to Abilene Christian,” head coach Mike Perez said. “They played with a lot of inspiration today and our guys stepped up and matched that intensity. This is a match that we weren’t going to be denied and the guys simply got it done.”
Repeating a feat it did in the NCAA Regional Finals against rival Barry, Lynn (22-3) collected four singles victories to capture the win and advance to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
After sitting out Lynn’s last match versus Western New Mexico, Luca Pavanelli returned to the lineup and reunited the LU Italian combo with partner Alessio Iannozzi at number three doubles and romped to an 8-2 win for the first point of the match.
“Abilene Christian plays tremendous doubles,” Perez said. “Just as long as we came away with one point I felt like we had a chance. Willi [Wolfer] and Vlad [Cirla] have pulled us through in so many matches this year and it was great to see the bottom of the lineup come through and win matches for us today.”
The second doubles flight concluded play next with ACU tying the match at 1-1 as Max Kouyate and Amaury Van Haelen fell 8-2 to Borja Cortes and Alfredo Desiati.
With the match tied at 1-1 and number one doubles up in the air, Lynn’s No. 3 team of Vlad Cirla and Willi Wolfer found themselves in a 7-5 hole with Wolfer serving to stay alive in the match. Wolfer delivered on the service point to make it a 7-6 match. However, Lynn’s top team was unable to break the Wildcats and fell 8-6 with Abilene Christian collecting a 2-1 lead after doubles.
Iannozzi started the Blue & White comeback and completed play on the singles courts first by grabbing a pair of 6-2 set wins to tie the overall match at 2-2.
The Wildcats regained the lead as No. 6 Hans Hach dropped Lynn’s top player and 13th-ranked Wolfer 6-2, 6-3. Two points away from a win, ACU totaled a 3-2 lead in the overall match.
At the third singles flight, No. 40 Pavanelli knotted the match once again with a 6-4, 6-1 win against Nick Plum. Pavanelli takes his record to 17-2 in singles action on the year.
Tied at 3-3, Van Halen, after completing a quick 6-0 win in set one, found his second-set match tied 6-6 and in the tie-break. Van Halen vaulted to a 6-0 advantage, gave up the next two points and then closed out the match with a 7-2 tie-break win.
At the fourth singles flight, Ben Kendall came from behind in the first set to post a 7-6 (7-4) victory. With Lynn needing only one point to claim the overall “W”, Kendall massed a 5-0 advantage in set number two.
The lone American player in the Lynn lineup fought off an ad out to force the third duce of the match. Kendall continued to press his opponent at the net and converted the next two points to secure the overall match win for the Fighting Knights with a 6-0 win in set two against Desiati.
“Ben Kendall really did a great job today,” Perez said. “Over the past seven months he has done a tremendous job getting himself in great physical condition and it really showed today.”