BATON ROUGE, La. -- After dropping the doubles point for the third match in a row, the 21st-ranked Mississippi State women's tennis team (17-7) also rebounded from the early deficit for the third-straight time Thursday to defeat No. 32 Arkansas (16-13) 4-1 in the second round of the 2016 SEC Championship.
It was also the Bulldogs' fifth win a row (and second against UA in five days), all against SEC competition. With the victory, State has advanced to the SEC quarterfinals for the second year in a row and will face second-seeded and fifth-ranked Vanderbilt there on Friday morning at 10 a.m. CT. The teams have met once this season, with the Commodores posting a 4-1 on March 31 in Starkville in a closely-contested matchup.
To start the day Thursday, the Hogs' 42nd-ranked tandem of Shannon Hudson and Yuliya Lysa upset State's 35th-ranked duo of Madison Harrison and Kristina Vozniak 6-1 at the top spot. Following on court 2, Arkansas' Mia Jurasic and Ana Oparenovic upended MSU's Jasmine Lee And Louise Ronaldson 6-1 to clinch the doubles point and give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead. The remaining doubles match was suspended with the Razorbacks and Bulldogs tied 3-3.
Similar to the last meeting between Arkansas and MSU, the Bulldogs rallied in singles to take five of the six first sets to setup the come-from-behind victory. State's Jennifer Brown would be the first one off the court once again as she made quick work of Razorback Agne Cepelyte 6-2, 6-1 on court 6 to claim her fifth win in a row. Following at the No. 3 position, MSU's Harrison claimed her fourth triumph in a row, knocking off Arkansas' Hudson 6-4, 6-3 to give MSU a 2-1 lead. MS's 14th-ranked Lee would extend the lead to 3-1 as she fought past UA's 21st-ranked Lysa 7-6(2), 6-3 at the top spot for her eighth top 30 win of the year. State's 117th-ranked true freshman Anastasia Rentouli then clinched the match at the No. 4 position, holding off Razorback Makenzie Craft 7-5, 6-4 to make the final score 4-1. The remaining two matches would be suspended with MSU's No. 32 Georgiana Patrasc holding a 6-3, 4-6, 4-2 lead on court 2 and Vozniak in a close second set tiebreak, trailing 4-6, 6-6(2-2) at the No. 5 position.
"Beating a team like Arkansas twice in one week was quite an accomplishment for our girls," head coach Daryl Greenan said. "They played better than us both times in doubles, which is challenging to overcome. I credit our girls for digging deep and tapping their competitive spirits to play high level singles for the big win! This team has worked their way in to contention against every opponent this year and that has been exciting to be a part of for everyone involved in our program. If we can do the same tomorrow against Vandy, it could get interesting."
The Bulldogs' 17 wins this season tie for the second-most in MSU women's tennis program history. The school record is 19, set in 1986.
Vanderbilt is led by three top 30 singles players in No. 13 Frances Altick, No. 19 Sydney Campbell and No. 26 Astra Sharma. On the doubles side, Campbell teams up with Courtney Colton to form the nation's 13th-ranked tandem.