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Feb. 23, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The 33rd-ranked South Carolina women’s tennis team posted its fifth shutout of the season Sunday with a 7-0 win over No. 55 William & Mary at Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks wrapped up regular-season non-conference play with a 9-2 record. The Tribe fell to 3-9 on the year with the loss.

William & Mary did not have enough healthy players to field three doubles team, so the Tribe had to forfeit the No. 3 position before play began. Needing just one victory to clinch the doubles point, the Gamecocks’ post productive duo this spring came through again, as Katerina Popova and Brigit Folland defeated Julia Casselbury and Sydney Smith 8-0 on court two. Popova and Folland improved to 7-0 this spring overall.

The Tribe’s Nabila Farah and Melanie Roy jumped ahead of Dominika Kanakova and Elixane Lechemia 4-1 at the top slot, but the Gamecocks rallied. Kanakova and Lechemia caught fire and secured six straight games for a 7-4 lead. Before they could play the 12th game, though, Popova and Folland snagged the win at No. 2 doubles for the point, so play was suspended.

A depleted Tribe roster matched up with the Gamecocks at full strength made singles play even more difficult for William & Mary, as it defaulted the No. 6 match. South Carolina then raced through the first sets on courts one through four. At three, No. 112 Folland found herself in a battle with Roy, trailing 3-2 at the first changeover. Folland, though, held her composure and ended up winning four consecutive games to close out the first set with a 6-3 win, completing a sweep of all the first sets for South Carolina.

It became a sprint between Lechemia and No. T-69 Popova at one and two to see which player would finish first. Lechemia opened her match with Farah at one by winning eight games in row. Lechemia only surrendered one game in total and her 6-0, 6-1 final gave the Gamecocks their third point of the match. The junior from Lyon, France, now stands 14-6 overall and 8-2 in dual matches including a 4-1 mark at the No. 1 position.

Popova appeared as if she would add the clinching point soon after Lechemia finished with a 4-1 lead in the second over Leeza Nemchinov at two, but her opponent fought back to win three games in a row for 4-all. Popova calmly broke serve in the next game and then served it out to secure the victory for South Carolina. Popova improved to 14-5 on the season with the win and a team-best 9-1 in dual matches.

After a tough first set, Folland made the second look easy, cruising to a 6-3, 6-0 victory to make it 5-0 for Carolina. Meghan Blevins then took out Smith 6-3, 6-4 on court four about two minutes after Folland finished to leave Ximena Siles Luna and Casselbury as the last players on court at five. Siles Luna had just grabbed a 5-1 advantage in the second with the serve when Blevins won her match. After snagging a 40-0 lead, Siles Luna gave up a point but quickly took the next rally to finish the match with a 6-1, 6-1 triumph.

The Gamecocks begin SEC play next week hosting Missouri on Friday at 5 p.m. followed by No. 10 Texas A&M on Sunday at noon.

1. Elixane Lechemia, USC, def. Nabila Farah, W&M, 6-0, 6-1
2. #T-69 Katerina Popova, USC, def. Leeza Nemchinov, W&M, 6-1, 6-4
3. #112 Brigit Folland, USC, def. Melanie Roy, W&M, 6-3, 6-0
4. Meghan Blevins, USC, def. Sydney Smith, W&M, 6-3, 6-4
5. Ximena Siles Luna, USC, def. Julia Casselbury, W&M, 6-1, 6-1
6. Caroline Dailey, USC, wins by default

Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

1. Dominika Kanakova/Lechemia, USC, vs. Farah/Roy, W&M, 7-4 susp.
2. Folland/Popova, USC, def. Casselbury/Smith, W&M, 8-0
3. Blevins/Dailey, USC, wins by default

Order of Finish: 2