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March 2, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (4-7, 0-1 Big Ten) defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers (2-7, 0-0 Big 12) Sunday afternoon winning all six singles matches en route to a 6-1 victory. The win ends Nittany Lions' skid heading into their final two non-conference matches over spring break in Florida.
"It has been a while and obviously it feels really good," said interim head coach Chris Cagle. "Our team has kept working hard the whole time. We had a pretty passionate conversation after our match against Ohio State and some of the things we implemented in practice and some of the expectations I think helped to carry over to us playing well today."
Carmen Sandor (Toronto, Canada) and Katherine Whiteaway (Sawbridgeworth, England) paired up for the first time this spring to give the Nittany Lions the early advantage in doubles. They knocked off Ikktesh Chahal and Sophie Allen-Fisher 8-1 in No. 2 doubles, winning the final seven games to earn the victory.
"I think their energy was great the whole time," Cagle said about the Nittany Lions No. 2 doubles pair. "They did a good job at getting two up to the net and being aggressive when they could."
West Virginia tied the doubles competition at one point a piece with Irinka Toidze and Vivian Tsui's 8-6 win at the No. 3 position. Taylor Shukow (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Lisa Petruzillo (Muttontown, N.Y.) took an early 3-0 lead before the Mountaineers went on a 5-1 run to take the lead. The Nittany Lions tied the match twice after that but Mountaineers were able to hold on for the 8-6 win.
The Mountaineers were able to close out the match at No. 1 to clinch the doubles point heading into singles. After dropping the match's first two games, Marie-Frederique Bedard (Montreal, Canada) and Dasha Sapogova (Minsk, Belarus) took the next three games to earn their first lead in the match eventually going up 6-5 late in the match. Kaja Mrgole and Oana Manole were able to win the final three games of the match however, securing the doubles point giving West Virginia the first point of the match.
It didn't take long for the Nittany Lions to bounce back with Katia Blik (Moscow, Russia) and Whiteaway winning their matches in straight sets. Blik finished first taking the match at No. 1, 6-1, 6-2. Whiteaway put the Nittany Lions ahead 2-1 in the match with her victory at No. 5, 6-1, 6-1.
Bedard added to the Nittany Lions lead taking the No. 4 singles match over Vivian Tsui 6-4, 6-2 to give Penn State a two-point lead. The win moves Bedard into a tie with Kim Nelson and Megan Marton for 18th all-time on the career singles victories list in Penn State history.
Sapogova clinched the victory for the Nittany Lions with her 6-2, 6-0 win at No. 2 over Manole. Shukow completed her victory soon after taking the match at No. 6 singles, 6-1, 6-2. Sandor closed out the match earning her second victory on the day, defeating Chahal at No. 3 singles 6-4, 7-6(2).
"We got a little bit tougher today," said Cagle. "If we keep doing this all year we can do some pretty neat things. We have to continue this heading into spring break here in a week. We're going to be outdoors and points are going to be a longer, and if we continue that trend of being a little bit tougher we'll be doing just fine."
The Nittany Lions will head to Tampa, Fla. to close out their non-conference schedule. They will face South Florida on Monday, March 10 at 11 a.m. and Southern Methodist University the next day at noon.