Women's tennis tops Kearney in RMAC semifinals
DENVER - Trailing 3-0 in the first set of her singles match against Nebraska-Kearney's Callie Erickson, Natascha Vander Molen found what she had been looking for - consistency.
"My ground strokes got better," said Vander Molen, who came back to win that first set 7-6 before cruising 6-2 in the second set. "I was able to be more consistent. You keep the ball in play until you feel comfortable to hit that shot, and then go for it."
That patient approach has been a big part of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' recent surge and had a lot to do with Friday morning's 7-2 victory over the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers in the quarterfinals of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tennis tournament at Gates Tennis Center.
With the win, the third-seeded Mountain Lions advanced to the semifinals to meet No. 2-seed Mesa State. That match is to be played Friday afternoon.
For a team that, early in the season, struggled at times, earning the No. 3 seed and winning a semifinal match was a huge step forward. In some ways, Vander Molen's match Saturday was an illustration of the Mountain Lions' season.
"I came back and played more consistent," said Vander Molen. "We knew we had to do that as a team."
UCCS did just that. The Mountain Lions' patient, steady approach forced the Lopers to try to make winning shots rather than sit back and wait for mistakes. As a result, Nebraska-Kearney made the errors.
The poster child for UCCS' no-mistakes strategy is Katie McPhail, who was named the RMAC player of the year on Thursday night. McPhail outlasted Nebraska-Kearney's Linda Porrado 7-5, 6-3 Friday at No. 1 singles.
Lauren Schmidt (6-3, 6-1), Jessika Kardel (7-6 (7-5), 6-2) and Katelyn Towne (6-4, 6-1) all won their singles matches for UCCS as well.
In doubles play, McPhail and Vander Molen edged UNK's McKenna Irwin and Callie Erickson 9-8 (7-4), while Kardel and Schmidt topped Nicole Ruybalid and Autumn Trimble 8-5 at No. 2.
While the quarterfinal win was satisfying, UCCS coach Matt Hays knows consistency and patience won't be enough to beat Mesa State in the semifinals.
"We need to take it up one more level," said Hays.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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