San Diego, Calif. – Wins were sparse for the UCSB women's tennis team in day two of the ITA Southwest Regionals. With four players playing in the main draws singles and three teams participating in the main draws doubles, the Gauchos won just one match in each respective flight.
The senior duo played against Grand Canyon University's Ludovica Infantino and Martina Lo Pumo. Both pairs were well rested following byes, but it was UCSB's doubles squad that prevailed for an 8-4 win in the Round of 64.
"We had a few good performances. It's great that Natalie and Palina are through to the Round of 16. It's a pretty routine lead, but now they're ready for a challenge against their upcoming opponent USC.," Head Coach Simon Thibodeau said.
Collecting UCSB's one win individually was Elizaveta Volodko. It was a hard fought victory for the freshman as she faced Hawaii's Marina Hruba in a three-set battle.
Hruba established her presence early in the match's beginning, winning the first set 6-4. Trailing by a set, the No. 16 seeded Volodko didn't allow the pressure of playing from behind to curtail her play. The first-year Gaucho played with an intensity that Hruba was unable to match as Volodko went on to win the game in its final two sets 6-1; 7-5.
Able to advance to the Round of 16 following the win, Volodko faced her toughest challenge in her matchup against one of the nation's top players and tournament No. 1 seed Ashley Lahey of the University of Pepperdine.
Awarded the West Coast Conference Player of the Year award and finishing her freshman season a career-high No. 11 in the Oracle/ITA singles rankings, Lahey was the favorite in the match against UCSB's Volodko.
Despite being the underdog, Volodko didn't go out easy and put up a three-set fight. Lahey simply outplayed Volodko in the first set, blanking her 6-0. However, Volodko remained focused and responded with a 6-4 win in the match's second leg.
With the match's final set up for grabs after its first two sets were split, it was Lahey's talent and experience that triumphed Volodko in the late game situation as the No. 1 seed closed with a 6-2 set victory.
Surprisingly, No. 9 seeded Palina Dubavets landed on the losing end in being upset by USC's Angela Kulikov. UCSB's senior traded scores with Kulikov in the first set but couldn't prevent the Trojan player from pulling off the 7-5 win. After a great first set effort, Dubavets could no longer withstand Kulikov's play and was defeated 6-1.
UCSB couldn't overcome its losing woes within the singles bracket as its next option – Lise Sentenac – lost to No. 10 seed Veronika Miroshnichenko of Loyola Marymount University 6-4; 6-2.
The opponent talent only continued to improve as Amit Lev Ari took on the tournament's No. 7 seed Jada Hart of UCLA. Lev Ari tested the top 10 seed, nearly stealing the first set but was defeated 7-6. Hart's ability to escape Lev Ari in the match's beginning eventually led to her ending things off 6-1.
"I liked Amit's [performance]. She had a very close set in the UCLA match. She lost, but it was good for her to be right there against a top three player. Another good one was Elizaveta, who first came back against a strong Hawaii player. Then, she played the No. 1 seed who is ranked third in the country and is in the top 500 in the world. She fell apart a little bit, but she really had chances to upset the top seed. That was a really good sign for a freshman, so we were really inspired by her performance."
Although the Gauchos didn't produce the greatest results in singles play, they still had a chance for all three of its doubles pairs to advance to the Round of 16.
Such a feat was pursued by Volodko and Stephanie Yamada, who embraced the challenge of No. 3 seeded duo Ayan Broomfield and Terri Fleming. The UCLA pair showed that they deserved the seed, rising to the occasion with an 8-2 win.
The quest to the Round of 16 continued with Amanda Atanasson and Lev Ari. They nearly made their goal a reality against USC's Kulikov and Becca Weissmann, pushing the two to a tiebreaker, but were eventually halted by the Trojan players in a narrow 9-8(5) win.
Santa Barbara put together a strong display in consolation matches. Atanasson beat Long Beach State's Carlota Casasampere 6-4; 6-1. Meanwhile, Da Silveira fell to Long Beach's Lalita Devarakonda in a back-and-forth duel. The Gauchos senior earned a 6-0 shutout in the first set but was overcame by Devarakonda in the match's last two sets 7-5; 1-0(6). Lastly, Yamada recorded a 6-2; 7-5 win over Hawaii's Klara Pribylova.
UC Santa Barbara's run in the consolation pool will continue on Saturday, Oct. 21. Starting at 10 a.m., both Atanasson and Dubavets will be back in action. At 11:30 a.m., Da Silveira, Sentenac, Volodko, Yamada and Lev Ari will compete in the extra field of matches.