Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania women's tennis team won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship on Sunday afternoon at Top Seed Tennis Club, defeating the Anderson University Ravens, 5-1 in the 2019 HCAC Women's Tennis Tournament Championship match.
The No. 3 seed Pioneers completed their three-match mastery of the weekend tournament on Sunday by defeating the No. 1 seed Ravens in their second consecutive championship match appearance to clinch their first conference tournament championship in eight years.
By winning the HCAC Tournament, the Pioneers clinched the conference's automatic bid into next spring's NCAA Division III Women's Tennis Tournament on May 18-23 in St. Louis, Missouri on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis.
Sunday's resounding win capped off a captivating weekend for the Pioneers, who swept Mount St. Joseph in Friday's quarterfinals before knocking off the top two seeds in the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament in less than 24 hours to win their third-ever conference tournament championship.
The Pioneers staked their claim to the conference tournament title on Sunday morning by taking on the Ravens, who defeated the Pioneers in their regular-season finale just eight days ago at the same venue on Transylvania's senior day by a 5-4 match final.
Transylvania wrote a different script on Sunday, sweeping all three doubles matches against the Ravens. In the critical No. 1 doubles match, Porsche Robinson and Jessica Burton seized an 8-2 win over Katrina Berban and Jasmine Blair. Merrick Irwin and Sheila Cetina doubled the early win total with an 8-4 win over Allison Newman and Claire Miller in No. 2 doubles.
The Pioneers vigorously shifted momentum in their favor when Alyssa Igyarto and Christina Duvall ground out an 8-7 (7-5) win over Jordyn Roper and Jenna Kuntz at No. 3 doubles to give the Pioneers a looming 3-0 match lead and putting them just two singles match wins away from their first conference tournament title since 2011.
The singles matches featured a collection of tight results across all six courts as Anderson tried to rally back. Claire Miller of Anderson picked up the lone win of the day for the Ravens with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Irwin in No. 4 singles. But Igyarto unleashed a strong effort over Jordyn Roper to win 6-3, 6-1 at No. 5 singles to give the Pioneers a 4-1 match lead.
While Robinson battled into a third set with Berban at No. 1 singles and Anderson nursing second-set leads in two other matches, Burton clinched the championship for Transylvania with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Blair at No. 3 singles, ending the match and giving the Ravens their first HCAC defeat of the year.
Burton was selected as the tournament's Most Valuable Player as she won all six of her tournament matches over the three-day saga while only conceding three total games in singles play.
The tournament title completed the first conference run by the Pioneers under first-year head coach Bill Carey, who expressed his excitement as the Pioneers raised the HCAC trophy for the first time in eight years: "I could not be more thrilled for this team and all that they have accomplished this season, culminating with the big wins in the HCAC tournament. They really put everything together at the end and winning all three doubles against Hanover on Saturday, and winning all three doubles against Anderson today really set the tone for both days. They stated from the beginning that their goal was to win conference and they went out and made it happen. We are all thrilled to be going to the NCAA Tourney!"
The HCAC Tournament concludes the fall portion of the 2019-2020 season for the Pioneers.
Transylvania will reconvene for play on February 15, 2020 against Ohio Northern University and Roanoke College at Top Seed Tennis Club to commence the spring schedule as they work towards the NCAA Tournament in May.
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