SEDONA, Ariz. – Seniors Alice Pacaut and Malia Wahinepio clinched the doubles point for the Northern Arizona women's tennis team that helped send the Lumberjacks soaring past the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah, 5-2, Friday at the Enchantment Resort. The victory was the 17th of the season for the senior tandem which set a new single-season school record as they improved to 17-3 this season with 16 wins in their last 17 matches. The Lumberjacks locked up at least the third seed in the upcoming Big Sky Championship tournament with the victory.
"This was a tough team and there's no question about it," said director of tennis Kim Bruno. "This was our first time at this facility and our girls overall played well. We needed this match going into next weekend and then the conference tournament. That was our focus and we got it done."
Pacaut and Wahinepio's record-breaking win at No. 3 was just one-third of the Lumberjacks' 10th consecutive doubles sweep. Sophomores Hannah Stone and Johanna Vang won their eighth straight match, 8-2, to begin the day and was followed by Pacaut and Wahinepio's 9-7 win. Seniors Ghizelene Doballah and Nicole Perez finished off the doubles sweep with their 10th consecutive win, grinding out an 8-6 victory at No. 2. NAU has now won its last 29 doubles matches during their last 10 contests overall.
Pacaut and Wahinepio's 17 doubles wins broke the tie shared with Aimee Oki and Stephanie Vallejos. Oki and Vallejos had previously compiled a 16-5 doubles record in 2008.
"Alice and Malia are two fantastic doubles players so when they get to the net and playing aggressive, they're unstoppable," Bruno said. "That's hard to find a lot in the women's game, two unbelievable volleyers. Also they have fun together and they have good chemistry. I didn't realize when I switched them (into partners) after the first match this year that this would such a great season for them. I'm so proud of them."
Vang, Wahinepio and Stone closed out the win for the Lumberjacks, winning the first three singles matches to be completed at the No. 1, 3 and 4 positions. After the Thunderbirds' Aleksandra Ivanova defeated Doballah at No. 2, Perez won her team-leading 17th singles match at No. 6. Southern Utah concluded the match with a three-set win by Anastasiia Vasileva over Pacaut at No. 5.
The Lumberjacks are now 9-1 in their last 10 matches and enters next Saturday's regular season finale against Weber State, 15-9 overall and 7-2 in the Big Sky. The team can finish no lower than the third seed for the conference tournament to be held from April 26-28.
Next Saturday's match at the Enchantment Resort will be Senior Day for the team's five seniors. It will be the final regular season match for Doballah, Pacaut, Perez, Wahinepio and Alice Walker. The match will start at 9 a.m. and will be the opening of an NAU-Weber State doubleheader with the men's match to follow that afternoon.
1. Hannah Stone/Johanna Vang (NAU) def. Olya Kunz/Aleksandra Ivanova (SUU), 8-2
2. Ghizelene Doballah/Nicole Perez (NAU) def. Veronika Rogova/Anastasiia Vasileva (SUU), 8-6
3. Alice Pacaut/Malia Wahinepio (NAU) def. Madeline Skaras/Afton Staheli (SUU), 9-7*
*Clinched Doubles Point
Order of Finish: (1, 3, 2)
1. Stone (NAU) def. Kunz (SUU), 6-2, 6-3**
2. Ivanova (SUU) def. Doballah (NAU), 7-5, 6-1
3. Vang (NAU) def. Rogova (SUU), 6-3, 6-3
4. Wahinepio (NAU) def. Skaras (SUU), 6-4, 6-3
5. Vasileva (SUU) def. Pacaut (NAU), 2-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6)
6. Perez (NAU) def. Staheli (SUU), 6-2, 6-0
Order of Finish: (4, 3, 1, 2, 6, 5)