JMU roundup: Dukes enjoy success in women’s tennis

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

LYNCHBURG – James Madison University women’s tennis notched two singles-flight championships and a doubles-flight championship to close out the final day of the Liberty Fall Classic on Saturday, Sept. 14.

Senior Ruxandra Andriescu and freshman Rachel Nelson (won Flight ‘7’ and Flight ‘4’ singles, respectively, on Saturday while the freshman-junior duo of Alex Huie and Taylor Pinchoff won the Flight ‘1’ doubles title.

Andriescu tallied her second two-set shut-out of the weekend, taking down Christopher Newport’s Anna Chekalkina in the Flight ‘7’ semifinal round. She then defeated Liberty’s Lauren Mabe 6-3, 6-3 to take the bracket title.

In Flight ‘4’ singles semifinal round, Nelson battled for the 6-4, 7-5 victory over Liberty’s Cameron Richard. Her first collegiate tournament title came after she knocked off Liberty’s Valerie Thong in two sets (6-2, 6-3).

Huie and Pinchoff won the Flight ‘1’ doubles title over Liberty’s Rebekah Jenkins and Maria Khval 8-6. In singles action, Pinchoff came in second in Flight ‘1’ after a two-set victory (7-6(2), 7-5) over Brittany Franco and a two-set loss (7-5, 6-0) to Maria Khval in the championship round. Huie, who was seeded in the same bracket, lost to Khval 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals but bounced back for the 6-2, 6-1 win over Franco to take third place.

Nelson and senior Jacqueline Palmucci earned a second-place finish in Flight ‘3’ doubles after falling 8-6 to Radford’s Meg Napolitano and Grace Sarver in the championship round. Palmucci came in fourth place in Flight ‘2’ singles following a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Rebekah Jenkins (Liberty) in the semifinals and a 7-5, 6-1 loss to Taylor Newman (Radford) in the third-place match.

In the Flight ‘3’ doubles consolation bracket, Andriescu and redshirt junior Sarah Khan won the consolation final 8-3 over Virginia Tech’s Rebecca Harris and Laura Ramthun.

Khan, who was in the Flight ‘5’ singles bracket, notched a come-from-behind win in the semifinals over Harris (VT). After dropping set one 7-5, she earned the 6-1 victory in set two and clinched the 10-4 win in set three to advance to the championship round. In the finals, she drew even with Sarver (RU) with a 7-6 win in set two following a 6-1 loss in set one, but her comeback attempt fell just short as she dropped set three 10-8 and took second place.

Sophomore Cara Wirth also finished in second place in her singles bracket. She won her Flight ‘6’ semifinal match over Napolitano (RU) in two sets (7-6(8), 7-5), but fell in three sets (6-2, 0-6, 10-8) to Liberty’s Annisha Domenech in the championship match.

Wirth and freshman Emily Bradshaw picked up an 8-1 win over Longwood’s Bethany Law and Sarah Moomau in a Flight ‘2’ consolation game.

Bradshaw, who was sick on day one of the tournament, won the Flight ‘3’ singles consolation bracket. She opened with a two-set victory (6-1, 6-0) over West Virginia State’s Diana Cotors in the quarterfinals before earning the walkover due to tournament administrative error from Christopher Newport’s Logan Eldridge in the semifinal round. In the final match, Bradshaw defeated Radford’s Gisela Garcia 6-3, 6-2 to close out the day.

The Dukes return to action Friday, September 27, when they begin the three-day Hokie Fall Invite in Blacksburg.

HARRISONBURG – Freshman right side Janey Goodman and redshirt junior setter Kristi Richardson were named to the All-Tournament team as the James Madison volleyball team earned a split on day two of the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday. After opening the tournament with a 3-0 win over Albany on Friday, JMU went 1-1 on Saturday, falling to No. 18 North Carolina, 3-0, in the morning session before rallying for a 3-2, come-from-behind win over George Washington in the evening.

The Dukes win over GW was by set scores of 25-27, 23-25, 25-20, 26-24, 15-12 while losing to UNC by scores of 25-21, 25-22, 25-23. They went 2-1 on the weekend to run their record to 4-6 on the season. The Tar Heels won all three matches on their home court this weekend to improve to 9-0 while George Washington dropped to 4-6.

In the match against the Colonials, Goodman paced three Dukes in double figure kills with her second career 20-plus kill performance. She had 22 kills on .183 hitting, adding three blocks. Junior middle blocker Lizzy Briones had 12 kills and matched her career-high with 10 blocks. Briones also had three digs, two aces and an assist. Sophomore outside hitter Meghan Niski finished with a double-double with 14 kills and 17 digs.

Sophomore outside hitter MacKenzie Kleespies and sophomore libero Sierra Hahn-Ventrell paced four Dukes in double figures with 19 digs each while Richardson finished with 46 assists, 15 digs, six blocks and four kills. Sophomore defensive specialist Jaclyn Placha came off the bench to supply seven digs and two service aces.

George Washington featured five players with eight or more kills. Middle blocker Chidma Osuchukwu led the way with 11 kills on .391 hitting, adding nine blocks. Outside hitter Loren Williams had a double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs, but committed 11 attack errors for a .000 attack percentage. Outside hitter Rachael Goss supplied 10 kills and seven digs while setter Emily Clemens finished with 44 assists, 17 digs, five kills and three service aces. Libero Maddy Doyle led all players with 24 digs.

The match featured 35 tie scores and 17 lead changes, including three ties and one lead change in the fifth set. The Dukes outhit the Colonials .157 to .141 while out-blocking them 15-13. JMU picked up eight points from service aces to seven for GW.

George Washington sprinted out to a 5-1 lead in the fifth set, forcing Madison to burn a timeout. Trailing 8-4, the Dukes reeled out five straight points to come back to take a 9-8 lead. Kleespies had two kills to help fuel the run. After a kill from GW’s Loren Williams tied the score, the Dukes went on another 5-0 run to reach match point at 14-9. GW won the next three points to get back to 14-12, but a ball handling error ended the match in favor of the Dukes.

In the day’s first match, Goodman paced the Dukes with 10 kills on .286 hitting, adding three blocks and a dig. Kleespies supplied nine kills and eight digs while Briones contributed six kills and five blocks.

Richardson paced Madison to a .126 attack percentage with 27 assists, adding nine digs, four blocks, two aces and two kills. Hahn-Ventrell each contributed eight digs and freshman middle blocker Hanna Radhi (Gainesville, Va./Battlefield) had three kills and three blocks.

UNC’s Kayla Berringer hit .406 for the match with 14 kills against just one error. Middle blocker Victoria McPherson tied Briones for a match-high five blocks while setter Jordyn Schnabl supplied 26 assists, seven digs and a kill. Libero Ece Tanner led all players with 11 digs.

The Tar Heels outhit JMU .208 to .126, including 47 kills to the Dukes’ 34. UNC finished with 11.5 digs to Madison’s 10 and garnered five aces to JMU’s four.

JMU returns home next weekend as it hosts Wake Forest, Campbell and Cleveland State at Godwin Hall in the JMU Invitational