BATON ROUGE, La. -- No. 11 South Carolina women's tennis opened up play at the 2016 SEC Tournament with a dominant 4-0 sweep of 12th-seeded Ole Miss on Thursday at the LSU Tennis Complex. An impressive doubles performance followed by a swift win at No. 1 singles put the Gamecocks up 2-0 before sophomore Hadley Berg and junior Brigit Folland closed out the victory.
With the win, 5th-seeded South Carolina (18-6, 9-4) moves onto the quarterfinals for the sixth time in eight years, where it will take on fourth-seeded Auburn (21-6, 9-4) Friday at 3 p.m. ET. The Tigers rallied for a narrow 4-3 win over the Gamecocks in their previous meeting this season.
Carolina came out gunning in doubles, jumping out to 3-1 leads on all three courts. Junior Caroline Dailey and Folland continued their aggressive play at No. 2 en route to a 6-2 win after Dailey placed a shot near the baseline that forced a Rebel error. As Dailey and Folland's match ended, freshmen Ingrid Gamarra Martins and Rachel Rohrabacher found themselves up 5-3 with match point, and needed just two opportunities to close the match, winning 6-3 and giving the Gamecocks the early lead.
With Ole Miss trying to improve its NCAA Tournament outlook, the first set was a battle on nearly every court. The Gamecocks were able to fend off the Rebels to take the first set on five of six courts. No. 71 Dailey led the way for the Garnet and Black with a 6-3 first-set victory before going on to defeat No. 29 Arianne Hartono, 6-3, 6-4. The win avenged a straight-set loss to Hartono earlier this season in Oxford and gave Dailey her fourth ranked win of the season.
Berg extended the lead to 3-0 with a straight-set win at No. 4. The Californian trailed in her first set 2-5, but put together a furious rally to real off 11-straight games and earn the 7-5, 6-0 triumph. Folland clinched the match for South Carolina, winning a hard-fought 7-5, 6-4 battle at No. 5.
"Singles was close. We won 4-0, but it was a close match," said South Carolina coach Kevin Epley. "Ole Miss fought hard. They're an SEC school and they're going to bring a fighting spirit every time. They've got good players. It was a close match. We wanted to see some of our girls play like we know they can play. I think the story of the day for our team was Caroline Dailey. She has struggled a lot this year, and we have been bringing a lot of wins without her point. Now she has expressed that she can play with some of the best, and we know she can. She's gotten mentally tougher in the last few weeks and I think that puts us in a better position to win at No. 1 where we weren't really counting on that before."
Carolina moves on to the quarterfinals to take on fourth-seeded Auburn. The Tigers rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Gamecocks in Auburn on April 8th.