NEW HAVEN, Conn. — No. 2 North Carolina will play for another ITA national women’s team indoor championship after a dramatic 4-3 victory over seventh-ranked Ohio State in Sunday’s semifinal match.
With this win, North Carolina (8-0) earned its third consecutive appearance in the finals and its fourth in the last five seasons. The Tar Heels won titles in 2013 and 2015.
UNC began the day by winning the doubles point as the team has done in every match this season. On court one, Hayley Carter and Sara Daavettila broke Ohio State’s serve to go up 3-2. The duo never slowed down from there and coasted to a 6-2 victory.
The Buckeyes quickly responded with a 6-4 win on court two, leaving doubles to be decided on court three.
UNC’s 42nd-ranked duo of Alexa Graham and Jessie Aney outlasted Ferny Angeles Paz and Olivia Sneed in a tiebreaker, winning 7-6 (5). A Carolina poach sent Ohio State’s shot sailing long, giving the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead entering singles play.
No. 17 Aney added to UNC’s lead with a dominating 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 68 Gabriella De Santis on court three.
Ohio State (7-1) claimed its first point of the day when No. 84 Miho Kowase completed a win in straight sets over No. 60 Makenna Jones, 6-2, 7-5 on court five. The Buckeyes added another point shortly after with Sandy Niehaus defeating No. 48 Graham 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 on court four, tying the match at 2-2.
No. 2 Daavettila came-from-behind to top No. 55 Anna Sanford, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, putting Carolina back in front with two matches left to play.
On court six, Ouellet-Pizer also went to a third set but ultimately fell to Ferny Angeles Paz 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, meaning the match would be decided on court one between a pair of top-5 ranked players.
Fittingly, it was No. 5 Hayley Carter who clinched the match for the Tar Heels with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over top-ranked Francesca Di Lorenzo. Entering the match, Carter was 0-3 against Di Lorenzo, with two of those losses coming earlier this season. But a break put Carter up 4-3 against the three-time ITA national champion and pushed her to the victory.
Carolina will face either No. 1 Florida or sixth-ranked Georgia in the finals on Monday.
#5 Hayley Carter (UNC) def. #1 Francesca Di Lorenzo (OSU) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
#2 Sara Daavettila (UNC) def. #55 Anna Sanford (OSU) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
#17 Jessie Aney def. #68 Gabriella De Santis (OSU) 6-1, 6-3
Sandy Niehaus (OSU) def. #48 Alexa Graham (UNC) 7-5, 2-6, 6-3
#84 Miho Kowase (OSU) def. #60 Makenna Jones (UNC) 6-2, 7-5
Ferny Angeles Paz (OSU) def. Chloe Ouellet-Pizer (UNC) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
Order of finish: 3, 5, 4, 2, 6, 1
Carter/Daavettila (UNC) def. Sanford/Niehaus (OSU) 6-2
Di Lorenzo/Kowase (OSU) def. #42 Aney/Vazquez (UNC) 6-4
Graham/Ouellet-Pizer (UNC) def. Angeles Paz/Sneed (OSU) 7-6(5)
Order of finish: 1, 2, 3