NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For the third-consecutive year, the 20th-ranked and sixth-seeded Mississippi State women's tennis team (15-7) advanced to the quarterfinals of the SEC Championship. The Bulldogs defeated the 23rd-ranked and 11th-seeded Tennessee Volunteers (18-11) 4-1 Thursday morning at Vanderbilt's Currey Tennis Center to advance.
MSU will battle top-ranked and third-seeded Florida in the quarterfinals on Friday at 9 a.m. CT. Live stats will be available through vucommodores.com.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after winning a close doubles point. On court 1, MSU's fifth-ranked tandem of Jasmine Lee and Lisa Marie Rioux made quick work of UT's No. 76 Eve Repic and Brittany Lindl 6-1. Following on court 2, the Volunteers' Sadie Hammond and Gabby Schuck downed the Maroon & White's Jennifer Brown and Khrystyna Vozniak 6-3 to even things up.
At the No. 3 position, State's Madison Harrison and Sara Lizariturry outlasted UT's Ariadna Riley and Johanna Silva 7-5 - rallying from an early deficit - to clinch the doubles point and give MSU the 1-0 advantage.
Despite taking five of the first six sets, Tennessee pushed the Bulldogs to three sets on three courts before MSU was able to ultimately clinch the team victory.
On court 3, State's Harrison overpowered UT's Sadie Hammond in straight sets 6-0, 6-2 to extend the Bulldog lead to 2-0. Following with her own straight-set victory, MSU's 10th-ranked Lee defeated her 12th ranked opponent of the season in Tennessee's 42nd-ranked Lindl, winning 6-4, 6-0 at the top position in the lineup for a commanding 3-0 MSU lead.
But the Vols pushed back. Tennessee would get its lone point of the day as Silva ousted State's Vozniak 6-3, 6-2 on court 5.
After UT had rallied to force a third set in the final three affairs, the Bulldog true freshman Lizariturry outlasted the Volunteers' Schuck in three sets - 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 - at the No. 6 spot, clinching the 4-1 victory for MSU. It was the rookie's fourth match clincher against SEC opponents this season.
The remaining two matches were suspended with the Volunteers holding leads on both courts. At the No. 2 position, UT's Repic led MSU's Rioux 1-6, 6-3, 5-3. On court 4, Tennessee's Riley held a slim 2-6, 7-6(6), 1-0 lead over MSU sophomore Anastasia Rentouli.
"It was a tough battle and both teams put up a tremendous fight," head coach Daryl Greenan said. "I am proud of my girls for stepping up and winning some key points. We compete hard every time we step on the court and it shows in our results. This was a big win for us and puts us in a good position to have a strong postseason."