Before the Buccaneers left for LaJolla, Calif., for this three-day women's tennis venture to the plush surroundings of UC-San Diego, Barry coach Avi Kigel offered hints of concern.
He won't admit it now, but when he left without Serbian star Vojka Lukic, who is healing and training in Miami Shores, he didn't know what to expect with three matches against quality opponents from the West Coast. After beating No. 2 NAIA-ranked Fresno Pacific, 6-3, Wednesday with a different look to the lineup in the first of these three matches, the Bucs coach was talking a little different tune.
"It was what I thought from the beginning," he said, "that we'd have a chance to win with or without her. It was good to get a win today, and now we get ready for (UC-San Diego) tomorrow and our toughest match to finish it up against Hawai'i Pacific."
Barry took care of the previously-unbeaten Sunbirds, despite a few stiff challenges at some of the higher flights.
Fresno Pacific's Katarena Paliivets beat Barry's Cristina Valladares, 6-2, 6-1, at No. 1. At the No. 3 flight, No. 18-ranked Yumiko Justin beat Buccaneers veteran Julie Stas, 7-5, 6-1. But Barry's No. 47-ranked Linda Fritschken rolled to a 6-0, 6-0 sweep of No. 18 Erika Januskova at the No. 2 spot -- a win that catapulted Barry to a nice run of singles wins.
Akemi Maehama, inserted up in the No. 4 spot due to the necessary vacancy of Lukic's absence, took care of business nicely in beating Anna Mikhaylova, 7-5, 6-4. Barry's Caroline Wendling, the No. 49-ranked singles player in Division II, continued to roll this year, blanking Elizabeth McFeeters in straight sets without surrendering a game. Mona Mansour, also back in the singles lineup for the first time since Feb. 25, beat Erin Carlson, 6-1, 6-0, at the No. 6 spot.
"Some of our girls played very good, some played OK," Kigel said. "Akemi, who doesn't always play, came in and did a good job."
Fresno Pacific's No. 1 doubles tandem of Paliivets and Januskova beat Barry's Sarah Krohnen and Fritschken, 8-3. But the Bucs (8-0) picked up pairs wins from Mansour and Valladares over Justin and Jennifer Ren, 9-7, at No. 2, and an 8-1 triumph from Stas and Olivia Matuszak over Mikhaylova and McFeeters at No. 3.
"We were able to use two different combinations of doubles, and we were able to see how it worked," Kigel said. "Overall, it was a good team performance.
"Every win is a win. You want to win every match. It was kind of cold. We responded much better to the weather. We made the adjustments, and got the first win here."
Barry plays host No. 18 UC-San Diego at 2 p.m. PST Thursday before wrapping up the California trip against No. 5 HPU on Friday morning.