No. 13 Stanford Fights Back To Beat No. 19 USC Women In Pac-12 Title Match

    USC fell to Stanford 4-2 in a match to decide the 2016 Pac-12 team champion.
    April 20, 2016

    OJAI, CALIF. — The No. 19 USC women’s tennis team carried a nine-match win streak into today’s showdown in Ojai. The Pac-12 Championship was on the line, with the No. 19 Women of Troy squaring off against No. 13 Stanford in a battle for the conference crown at the Ojai Valley Athletic Club. USC would craft an early lead, but the Cardinal would work its way into control of this one, finally topping the Trojans 4-2 in a comeback push to claim the 2016 Pac-12 crown. The USC women now hold a 12-5 overall record and will wait to resume team competition once the NCAA Team Championship bracket announcement is made on May 3. Tomorrow marks the start of the Pac-12 Championships, running April 21-24 in Ojai with conference singles and doubles titles up for grabs.

    The Trojans got a leg up in the match with a strong showing in doubles. Freshman sensations Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes issued a swift 6-1 win over Stanford’s #67 Hardebeck/Lampl on court three to light the fuse for USC. In a battle of top-10 pairs on court one, it was USC’s #7 Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith who were in control. The Trojan duo whipped up a 6-3 upset of Stanford’s #5 Davidson/Doyle to help lift USC into a 1-0 lead on the way into singles action. 

    Singles play was a nail-biter. The Women of Troy took another step ahead with Zoë Katz’ speedy 6-4, 6-1 win over #82 Caroline Doyle on court three, making it a 2-0 USC advantage. But the Cardinal fired right back and snagged wins on courts one and two. At the top spot, Stanford’s #33 Carol Zhao fended off USC’s #24 Giuliana Olmos 6-4, 6-2. On court two, USC’s #116 Madison Westby was looking to force a second-set tiebreaker to breathe new life in her match, but Stanford’s #40 Taylor Davidson held her ground and leveled the match at 2-2 with her 6-1, 7-5 victory over Westby. 

    The intensity in the match cranked up further as USC’s Gabby Smith forced a third set on court four, joining freshman Jessica Failla in an extended effort to get more USC points on the board. At the No. 6 spot, freshman Rianna Valdes also was looking to force the issue and bring up a third set in her match. But as the matches raged on, Stanford began to take control. Valdes would get the second set into a tiebreaker, but her opponent Melissa Lord stepped up her game in the breaker and took the Cardinal to a 3-2 lead with a 7-5, 7-6 (1) win on court six. That left three-setters going strong on courts four and five, but on both it was the Cardinal in the drivers seat. While Failla and Smith both were battling to stay in their respective matches, it would be Stanford’s Caroline Lampl who stole the decider for the Cardinal. She’d top Failla in a 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 comeback that secured a 4-2 victory for Stanford. Smith’s match against #93 Krista Hardebeck would be suspended, and the Cardinal would claim the 2016 Pac-12 crown with the 4-2 decision over the Women of Troy. 

    Now, the USC women will divide and conquer in individual action in Ojai. The Pac-12 Singles and Doubles Championships will run April 21-24, with conference titles on the line. Draws will be announced either tonight or Thursday morning. Check back to for more information and to follow along.

    #13 Stanford 4, #19 USC 2
    April 20, 2016 - Ojai Valley Athletic Club (Ojai, Calif.)
    (1) #7 Olmos/Smith (USC) def. #5 Davidson/Doyle (STAN) - 6-3
    (2) #80 Katz/Westby (USC) vs. Lord/Zhao (STAN) - 5-6 susp.
    (3) Failla/Valdes (USC) def. #67 Hardebeck/Lampl (STAN) - 6-1
    USC wins doubles point.
    Order of finish: 3, 1
    (1) #33 Carol Zhao (STAN) def. #24 Giuliana Olmos (USC) - 6-4, 6-2
    (2) #40 Taylor Davidson (STAN) def. #116 Madison Westby (USC) - 6-1, 7-5
    (3) Zoë Katz (USC) def. #82 Caroline Doyle (STAN) - 6-4, 6-1
    (4) Gabby Smith (USC) vs. #93 Krista Hardebeck (STAN) - 4-6, 6-3, 0-5 susp.
    (5) Caroline Lampl (STAN) def. Jessica Failla (USC) - 4-6, 6-1, 6-3*
    (6)  Melissa Lord (STAN) def. Rianna Valdes (USC) - 7-5, 7-6 (1)
    Order of finish: 3, 1, 2, 6, 5*