Buccaneers Moving on to NCAA Semifinals

Buccaneers Moving on to NCAA Semifinals
Julie Stas came up big for the Bucs in the quarters, winning a pair of matches and celebrated in style. Photo by Bridget Lyons

LOUISVILLE -- Maybe it was a good thing. They'll know more Friday.

Barry University's women's tennis team endured a challenge from No. 8 California-Pennsylvania, holding on to win 5-2 in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals Thursday at Top Gun Tennis Academy.

The No. 2-ranked Buccaneers (26-0) advance to play No. 3 Armstrong Atlantic (27-0) in the semifinals at 10 a.m. Friday at Top Gun.

Barry won two of the three doubles matches, but were tested at No. 3 and No. 1. Julie Stas and Olivia Matuszak beat Ramona Czakon and Anastassiya Zherdeva, 8-2, at No. 2. Stas, one of the Bucs dominant doubles players, shared a celebratory kiss with her partner after the match in a moment symbolic of the bonds this team has formed throughout the year.

Linda Fritschken and Caroline Wendling battled back from a 4-2 deficit to beat Annabel Pieschl and Jade Pondicas, 8-5, at No. 3 to send the Bucs up 2-0 in the match. Cal-Pennsylvania's No. 4-ranked pair of Martina Rubesova and Franziska Steinhardt shot out in front of No. 15 Mona Mansour and Cristina Valladares, only for the Bucs pair to creep back in it before succumbing, 8-6.

Mansour, who possesses the best athleticism on this year's squad in running down balls, was knotted at 3-3 in the first set with Steinhardt. But the Buccaneers Swedish sophomore ripped off three straight games and then coasted in the second set for a 6-3, 6-2 No. 5 singles victory.

In the end, it was Mansour's athleticism that won out. Her ability to run down balls is superseded by no one in the Bucs' lineup.

"That's my game," Mansour said.

Pondicas beat Matuszak, 6-3, 6-3, pulling Cal-Pennsylvania within 3-2. But Stas outbattled Zherdeva, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3, to give Barry its fourth team point. No. 15-ranked Linda Fritschken wore the closer's role for the Buccaneers after outlasting Pieschl, 6-2, 7-5 at No. 2.

Barry advances to the semifinals for the second straight year. This marks the third straight year the Buccaneers will play Armstrong Atlantic in the NCAA Championships. Last year the Bucs won, 5-3, in the semifinals. Two years ago, Barry lost 5-0 to Armstrong in the quarters.

Follow Friday's match via the NCAA's Live Video broadcast at http://bit.ly/HW96I3. The NCAA will also provide Live Stats for the match at the same link.