ATHENS, Ga. -- Lauren Herring won a third-set tiebreak to send top-seeded Georgia into the NCAA quarterfinals, beating No. 16 seed Southern California 4-3 on Thursday night in the Round of 16. The Bulldogs will face the No. 8 seed Florida at 4 p.m. ET Saturday.
Herring dropped the first set 7-5, but roared back to win the second set decisively 6-1. In the third set, USC’s Zoe Scandalis fought off multiple match points to force a tiebreak that Herring ultimately won 7-5. Her 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(5) win was her 30th of the year, and 12th in a row. Herring hasn’t loss a singles match since February.
"Our crowd [Thursday] was amazing and Lauren Herring was just as amazing,” Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace said. “It was a great match and I thought our team really played well. I thought USC played absolutely fantastic, just an epic battle. Either team could win in that great match. [Herring] was just amazingly tough at the end and [Maho Kowase] got it done quick, it was unbelievable."Georgia grabbed the early momentum by winning a tightly contested doubles point, its 24th doubles of the season. The pair of Maho Kowase and Herring opened the scoring with an 8-5 win against the duo of Kaitlyn Christian and Giuliana Olmos. It’s their team-high 32nd win of the season. A short time later, Georgia led both remaining courts 7-6, but Caroline Brinson and Lilly Kimbell outdid Gabriella DeSimone and Zoe Katz 8-6. Brinson and Kimbell broke Southern California’s serve in the final game to clinch the doubles point.
In singles, Kimbell quickly beat Gabriella DeSimone 6-1, 6-2 to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. USC’s Brynn Boren cut into the early Georgia advantage with a 6-3, 6-0 win against Silvia Garcia. However, Georgia’s senior prowess would strike again, as Kowase beat Giuliana Olmos 6-4, 6-0 to give Georgia a 3-1 lead.
The Women of Troy evened the score at 3-3 when Fuller and Mia King fell 7-5, 7-5 and 6-3, 6-0 to Kaitlyn Christian and Zoe Katz, respectively, setting the stage for Herring’s victory.
More than 1,300 fans were in attendance on a night that turned frigid after the sun set.
"I could not have done it without them,” Herring said. “Our crowd is amazing. It was really special too because my grandparents are here. It was just really cool."
Georgia improves to 4-0 all-time against the Women of Troy in the NCAA tournament and 9-1 all-time. The win also marks Georgia’s first 4-3 win in a third-set tiebreaker since April of 2008 when former Bulldog Monika Dancevic completed the feat against No. 3 Vanderbilt.
Georgia improves to 70-25 all-time in the NCAA tournament and will be making its 13th appearance in the quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs are making their 28th consecutive appearance in the NCAA tennis championships.