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April 18, 2014
LINCOLN, Neb. - The Nittany Lions (6-16, 2-8 Big Ten) won the final four matches, coming back from three points down to defeat Nebraska (8-15, 0-10 Big Ten) for the first time in program history Friday night, 4-3.
"All four on the court they were looking down at the different courts thinking I can do this and my teammate can do this and it gave them extra confidence to hang in there when the matches were close," said interim head coach Chris Cagle following the match. "That's one thing we talk about, college tennis is a team effort, it's not an individual sport and they showed that today."
With the match tied 3-3 Dasha Sapogova (Belarus, Minsk) knocked off Maggie Lehmicke in three sets at the No. 1 singles match to clinch the deciding point and give the Nittany Lions their first road victory on the season.
"It was awesome," Sapogova said after the match. "I was so nervous, I don't think I was ever that nervous in my life but the feeling after getting the win was amazing."
The Cornhuskers took the early lead when they earned victories at the first and second doubles matches to clinch the doubles point. Izabella Zgierska and Maike Zeppernick topped Katherine Whiteaway (Sawbridgeworth, England) and Carmen Sandor (Toronto, Canada) 8-1 at No. 2 doubles to get the first win of the match.
The Cornhuskers earned their eighth doubles point of the season and first against a Big Ten team when Maggie Lehmicke and Mary Hanna snuck past Katia Blik (Moscow, Russia) and Sapogova at the number one match, 8-6. The match at No. 3 doubles went unfinished with Marie-Frederique Bedard (Montreal, Canada) and Taylor Shukow (Boca Raton, Fla.) all knotted up with Lisa Andersson and Hannah Sulz at seven games each.
In singles Nebraska added to their lead when Sulz knocked off Lisa Petruzillo (Muttontown, N.Y.) at the No. 6 singles match, 6-0, 6-0. They went up by three when Zeppernick topped Shukow 6-2, 6-2 at the number four match.
Katherine Whiteaway started the comeback for Penn State winning at number five singles, 7-6, 6-0 to make the score 3-1 in favor of the Huskers. Katia Blik finished next pulling the Nittany Lions within one, knocking off Zgierska 6-4, 6-4 at the No. 2 spot .
After dropping the first set at No. 3 singles, Sandor won the second set 6-4 sending the match to a third set where she clinched the victory tying the match at three points apiece and sending the match to No. 1 singles. The win moves Sandor into a tie with Lauren Holzberg (2005-09) for 11th all-time in team history with 49 career singles victories.
"I didn't really have any doubt that we would pull out the win at that point," said Sandor. "Dasha has been such a clutch player for us and I've been in this situation multiple times and I kept thinking about times when I was in that pressure moment and how I've stepped up and this was just one of those times I needed to step up for my team."
Sapogova's match-clinching win gave her 14 on the spring, the most by a freshman since Lauren McCarthy had 14 in 2007.
The Nittany Lions return to the courts on Sunday when they visit Iowa City to face the Iowa Hawkeyes in their Big Ten regular season finale. The match is slated for 11 a.m. at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex on the Klotz Outdoor Tennis Courts.
"Iowa is a good team just like all the teams in the Big Ten but this win shows that if we show up ready to compete and fight we can beat a lot of teams and our team will be ready for Sunday," said Cagle.