Thursday, May 17, 2012

USC Women Down Baylor 4-1 to Produce All-Pac 12 Quarterfinals in Top Half of Draw

©Colette Lewis 2012--
Athens, GA--

University of Southern California head coach Richard Gallien could have been concerned when his team lost four of the first sets against No. 12 Baylor after taking a 1-0 lead with the doubles point.

But he saw nothing that discouraged him, and when all the points were tallied, the No. 5 seeds posted a 4-1 win over the Bears.

"What I always look for is the looks on our girls' faces," said Gallien. "If I see moping and I see sadness and depression, I know it's trouble. But I actually didn't see that, and everyone looked to be focused and still hungry and not discouraged. And as long as that was the case, we had a very good chance to come back."

Baylor got even quickly, with Jordaan Sanford defeating Gabrielle DeSimone with the loss of only one game.  But USC made it 2-1 with Valeria Pulido's win over Megan Horter at 6, so all the McWhorter court action would be on the four courts in a row, 1-4. Already Zoe Scandalis had taken the second set from Nina Secerbegovic at 1, and Sabrina Santamaria also earned a third set at 3 versus Sona Novakova.

With Baylor's Ema Burgic also earning a third set at 4 with Kaitlyn Christian, all matches but Danielle Lao and Diana Nakic at 2 were in the third set. So the score stayed at 2-1 for quite some time, until Santamaria completed her comeback to make it 3-1 for USC.

Scandalis and Secerbegovic were playing lengthy point after lengthy point, and the Baylor senior was showing signs of physical problems. One backhand winner, which should have produced an energetic fist pump, elicited a wince instead.

Lao then saved countless match points with Nakic serving up 6-3, 6-5.  Eventually Lao won the game, and the subsequent tiebreaker, just as Scandalis got the break to take a 5-4 lead over Secerbegovic in the third.

Scandalis didn't rush, and a long point at 15-15, which included two netcords, ended with a savvy lob winner by the USC freshman.  Secerbegovic netted a forehand early in the next point to give Scandalis two match-clinching points. She only needed one, putting away an overhead for USC's 4-1 victory.

"For Zoe, as a freshman, winning at 1 after having lost the first set, that's even sweeter," said Gallien. "I hate to single people out, but matches like that can really spring people on. I was very proud, and also of Danielle, saving like 15 match points, which was really, really important to us."

Asked about the all-Pac 12 half of the draw, Gallien said, "I think we should just re-draw it. I mean, what do they have against the Pac-12? But Stanford is the best team in the country, and I'm not saying that to be Lou Holtz, but when they were healthy early in the year, they beat the pants off Florida, and they seem to be healthy again. It's a big challenge for us, but there's certainly no pressure on us, so we're going to give them hell, as they say."

The top half quarterfinals are set for Saturday at noon, with UCLA playing Cal and USC playing Stanford.

#5 SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (23-3) def. #12 BAYLOR (25-8), 4-1 - McWhorter Courts
Head Coaches: Richard Gallien (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) and Joey Scrivano (BAYLOR)

1.  #3 Kaitlyn Christian/Sabrina Santamaria (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. #78 Megan Horter/Nina Secerbegovic (BAYLOR), 8-4
2.  Ema Burgic/Diana Nakic (BAYLOR) def. #49 Valeria Pulido/Zoe Scandalis (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 8-4
3.  #75 Danielle Lao/Alison Ramos (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. Nicole Kosakowski/Sona Novakova (BAYLOR), 8-5

1.  #14 Zoe Scandalis (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. #23 Nina Secerbegovic (BAYLOR), 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
2.  #19 Danielle Lao (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) vs. #16 Diana Nakic (BAYLOR), 3-6, 7-6(4), unfinished
3.  #26 Sabrina Santamaria (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. #56 Sona Novakova (BAYLOR), 4-6, 6-2, 6-3
4.  #89 Kaitlyn Christian (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) vs. Ema Burgic (BAYLOR), 7-5, 2-6, 3-2, unfinished
5.  Jordaan Sanford (BAYLOR) def. Gabriella DeSimone (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA), 6-1, 6-0
6.  Valeria Pulido (SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) def. Megan Horter (BAYLOR), 6-1, 6-3

Order of Finish
Singles: 5,6,3,1*
Doubles: 1,2,3