No. 30 Nittany Lions Fall at Home to No. 12 Nebraska, 5-1
March 31, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 30 Nittany Lions (12-3, 2-3) suffered their first loss at home on the season falling to the No. 12 Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-3, 5-0), 5-1, Saturday afternoon. The Nittany Lions won two matches on the day but were unable to finish off their opponents in several other matches allowing the Cornhuskers to leave with their third win in as many matches against Penn State.
"Nebraska's a really solid team, we knew they were going to be tough," said head coach Dawna Denny. "They're a disciplined program and they've got a lot of seniority on their team so we were expecting a tough match. We knew we were going to have to play well to win but I felt like the girls fought and that's all you can ask for."
The Nittany Lions started strong with Marie-Frederique Bedard and Jacqueline Zuhse getting their second win together in as many days. They bested Maggie Lehmicke and Izabella Zgierska 8-4 to put Penn State up 1-0 early in doubles. Carmen Sandor and Devan McCluskey went back and forth with Janine Weinreich and Stefanie Weinstein but were not able to overcome the Cornhusker duo that has yet to lose this season in 18 matches together, losing 8-5.
The doubles point came down to the No. 1 match between No. 75 Petra Januskova and Chelsea Utting and No. 11 Mary Weatherholt and Patricia Veresova. Weatherholt and Veresova won the match 8-4 increasing their record to 12-1 in doubles play. Januskova and Utting move to 9-4 with the loss.
"As far as this weekend with doubles, I felt like we had three solid teams out there so that's been really nice for us," said Denny.
Heading into singles the teams started with the No. 2, 3, 5 and 6 singles matches with the No. 4 and 1 matches filling in as courts opened up. Veresova and Utting were the first to finish with Veresova winning 6-4, 6-0 to increase Nebraska's lead to 2-0. Bedard came right back to pull the Nittany Lions within one defeating Zgierska 6-4, 6-3.
"We've been working on toughness and this team is all about being tough and competitive," said Bedard. "I was just trying to be on every point and trying to win for my teammates and for myself as well."
Weinstein brought the Cornhuskers lead back to two knocking off Zuhse. After losing the first set Zuhse fought back sending the second set into a tiebreaker but was not able to send it to a third set losing, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5). After winning the first set Sandor wasn't able to hold on for the victory losing in a close match, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. The win gave Nebraska their fourth point of the match clinching the victory.
No. 13 Weatherholt and No. 57 Januskova faced off on court four. This was the second straight year these two met in the No. 1 match with both players being ranked. Last season Weatherholt came from a set down to win in the super breaker. She fought off the tough effort from Januskova once again winning 6-4, 6-4 to give the Cornhuskers a 5-1 lead.
In the No. 4 singles match McCluskey squared off with Weinreich. After winning the first set McCluskey fell behind in the second allowing Weinreich to send the match to a third set. With McCluskey leading 3-2 in the final set the match was called so that Nebraska could catch their flight back to Lincoln. With the incompleted match, the 5-1 score became the final.
"Nebraska's a very tough team and we came out here and we fought tooth and nail with them every match one through six," said assistant coach Mike Fenwick. "I think that's just an indicator that we're going to go out there no matter who's on the other side of the net, that we're going to go out there and put our best foot forward and try to win matches and make things happen."
The Nittany Lions will head northwest next weekend to take on Minnesota and Wisconsin. They'll face the Golden Gophers at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 5 and the Badgers on Sunday, April 7 at 11 a.m. The Nittany Lions will then return home the following weekend to host Northwestern and Illinois.