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April 4, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions (5-13, 1-5 Big Ten) hung on to defeat the Wisconsin Badgers (7-7, 3-3 Big Ten) Friday Night to earn their first conference win of the season in thrilling fashion, 4-3.
"It was huge for our team," said interim head coach Chris Cagle after the match. "I'm so excited for all of the girls, they all contributed, the ones on the court and the ones not in the lineup today."
With the score tied 3-3, the match came down to No. 5 singles. Both Katherine Whiteaway (Sawbridgeworth, England) and Sydney Rider won a set sending the match to a third and decisive set.
After both players took turns taking two sets at a time eventually making the score 4-4, Whiteaway pulled away taking the final two games to clinch the victory for Penn State, winning 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.
"Kat's been through a lot of tough matches and there's no experience like match experience," said assistant coach Mike Fenwick after the match. "Her playing as many matches as she can really paid off for her today. She did a great job staying focused on everything she could control in the match."
For the second time in three matches the Nittany Lions came away with the early point taking two of three matches in the doubles competition. After falling behind early when Wisconsin's Becca Bailey and Sydney Rider knocked off Taylor Shukow (Boca Raton, Fla.) and Lisa Petruzillo (Muttontown, N.Y.) in the No. 3 match, the Nittany Lions came back to win the remaining two matches to earn the doubles point.
Dasha Sapogova (Minsk, Belarus) and Katia Blik (Moscow, Russia) earned their second win playing together this season and tied the doubles session at one match apiece knocking off Lauren Chypyha and Lauren Burich, 8-4.
Carmen Sandor (Toronto, Whiteaway) and Katherine Whiteaway (Sawbridgeworth, England) clinched the doubles point knocking off Anastasia Tripolskaya and Nova Patel at No. 2 doubles. The win is the fourth time Whiteaway has earned the doubles point-clinching victory on the year, and the first for Sandor.
In singles the Badgers evened the match 1-1, when Bailey topped Petruzillo, 6-0, 6-0 at No. 6 singles.
Sapogova increased her team-lead in singles victories with her 11th of the season, knocking off a previously unbeaten Chypyha 6-4, 7-5 at the No. 1 match. Blik gave the Nittany Lions a 2-point advantage holding off Burich to take the No. 2 match 7-5, 7-5.
"It was a good win for Dasha and Katia played really well and it set up the rest of the team for somebody else to finish and today it was Kat," said Cagle.
The Badgers pulled within one when Tripolskaya won the final two sets against Sandor at No. 3 to win the match, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5.
Wisconsin struck again when Patel knocked off Shukow in the third set at No. 4 to tie the match. Shukow fought back winning the second set but Patel was able to hold on winning 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 to tie the match 3-3 where Whiteaway eventually clinched the match for the Nittany Lions.
The win at No. 5 singles allowed Whiteaway to become the first Nittany Lions player to clinch the doubles point and the team victory in singles since Petra Januskova did it last season against Indiana (3/22/13).
With the victory, Penn State returns to .500 (5-5) at home on the season. The Nittany Lions will look to build off of the win when they take on Minnesota on Sunday at 11 a.m.