MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Barry University swept Saint Leo, 5-0, Wednesday to win the South Region-1 women's tennis championship.
The win sends the No. 2 Buccaneers (24-0) onto Louisville to defend its NCAA Division II national championship. No. 15 Saint Leo finishes its season at 18-8.
Barry will play University of the District of Columbia at 11 a.m. May 16 in the Round of 16 at Louisville's EP Tom Sawyer Park.
"It's a great win. That's what we were working for all season," sophomore Olivia Matuszak said after sealing the region title with a 6-1, 6-2 No. 4 singles win over Jeanette McDonald. "It's been a great win. I could close it up. Me and the team are super happy right now."
The Bucs got pushed in two of the three doubles matches after Matuszak and Julie Stas rolled to an 8-1 win over McDonald and Adrianna Daszkiewicz at the No. 2 pairs spot.
Caroline Wendling and Linda Fritschken battled back and forth with Saint Leo's Maria Benkirane and Selma Hidass, finding themselves in ties at 6-6 and 7-7. But the Bucs No. 3 duo won the next two games to seal the match, 9-7. That gave Barry a 2-0 lead.
Mona Mansour and Cristina Valladares trailed 4-1 to No. 8 Laura Kemkes and Emily Singleton at No. 1 doubles. But the Bucs broke Kemke's serve and clawed their way back into the match. Mansour served Barry to two critical game wins to help pull the Buccaneers even at 8-8 after a couple long deuce battles in which the tide turned several times for each team.
But Mansour's serve and Valladares' putaways at the net helped the Bucs clinch the third doubles point.
Sarah Krohnen, inserted into the No. 6 singles spot to give Mansour a rest, ripped off a 6-0, 6-3 win over Phoebe Di Leo to push Barry's lead to 4-0.
"I was very happy that I could play today, and I was really confident," Krohnen said. "I really wanted to win this match, and I did.
"I'm very excited to go to the nationals. I think we have a great chance to win it, and I really want to win it with this team."
Matuszak closed it out, letting out a loud yell as the Bucs wrapped up their third straight region title.
This marks the 17th time the women's tennis program has advanced to the site of the national championships in its 22-year history.
"I think we have a great chance to win," Matuszak said. "We have a great team, just like last year. We have two weeks to prepare good. We have great players, great energy, and I really believe we can do it."