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GOLD RIVER, Calif. — The Sacramento State women's tennis team claimed its 13th consecutive Big Sky Conference Tournament title with a 4-3 win over top-seeded Montana on Sunday at the Gold River Racquet Club.
With the match tied at 3-3, the decisive point came at No. 4 singles where Olivia Boija outlasted Laurence Pelchat, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-5). In the third-set tie break, Boija fell behind 3-1 before running off five consecutive points to take a 6-3 lead. Pelchat battled back to claim the next two points before Boija hit a forehand winner down the line to claim the title.
"It was hard when Sophie (Lohscheidt) lost (on the court next to hers) because I knew it was tied 3-3," Boija said. "I tried not to think too much and played like it was a normal match. I told myself that you play tennis because you love it, and don't think about the score and just play your game."
Sacramento State claimed the doubles point to take the first point of the match. Daria Savchenko and Katharina Knoebl defeated Sasha Carter and Pelchat, 8-3, in the No. 2 match. The Hornets then wrapped up the point with an 8-4 win at No. 3 from Deimante Bulatovaite and Alina Soltanici.
Montana tied the match early in singles play when Ashley Mackey defeated Bulatovaite, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 5. The Hornets also had a two-set win of their own following Savchenko's 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 victory over Haley Driver at No. 1.
The remaining four singles matches were all pushed to a third set — each after the Grizzlies won the first set and Sacramento State claimed the second. UM knotted the match, 2-2, when Precious Gbadamosi downed Soltanici, 7-5, 1-6, 6-1, at No. 2. That match turned early in the third set when Soltanici re-injured a sprained ankle which limited her mobility.
Knoebl returned the advantage back to the Hornets with a win at No. 6. After losing the first set, 6-4, Knoebl seized control with a 6-3 second set win and then blanked Maddy Murray, 6-0, in the third.
The final two matches ended within minutes of one another. Carter hung on for a hard-fought 7-5, 6-2, 6-4, win over Lohscheidt at No. 3 to tie the match at 3-3. The match featured several long games, including a battle in the third set at 4-4 which had several deuce points. Lohscheidt also required medical attention midway through the first set to assist with a nagging back injury.
"I'm really proud of how we played today. The team had to come back in almost every match and had to work hard to get this victory," Sacramento State head coach Dima Hrynashka said.
"We've had a lot of bad luck with injuries this season and had to play three freshmen today. I think they felt the pressure today, but that makes this extra special."
With the victory, Sacramento State earned its 13th straight automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Hornets will find out their opponent on Tuesday, April 29, at 2:30 p.m. PDT.
The win also avenged a regular season loss to the Grizzlies in Missoula, Mont., which snapped Sacramento State's streak of 112 consecutive wins over Big Sky opponents.
"It feels so good to continue our streak (of winning the Big Sky title) because we don't want to lose that. We already had our overall streak stopped by Montana, so this was a little bit of revenge," Boija said.