South Carolina Battles, Falls to Vanderbilt 4-3
Nashville, Tenn. – No. 34 South Carolina played a grueling match against No. 41 Vanderbilt in which the Gamecocks fell in a 4-3 decision. After securing the doubles point, South Carolina continued to battle in singles and earned points from No. 2 Sarah Hamner and No. 61 Ayana Akli.
In doubles, South Carolina notched wins in the top two spots. No. 38 Megan Davies and Hamner built a steady lead and never fell behind to earn the 6-3 win. The Commodores took the match on Court 3, but the Gamecocks would decide the fate of the doubles point. Akli and Ana Cruz won their match 6-2 after Akli hit a strong volley that Vanderbilt dumped into the net.
Singles was a battle across the courts with No. 61 Akli being the first to finish her match. The junior blanked Vanderbilt’s No. 72 Anessa Lee in the first set and only dropped one game in the second on her way to the straight sets win. As a result, Akli extended her winning streak to five matches.
Vanderbilt grabbed the next two points in competitive matches on Courts 4 and 5. No. 86 Elise Mills dropped her first set but came back from a 1-4 deficit in the second set to reach 4-5. The Commodore eventually pulled away with the win to put Vanderbilt on the board. On Court 5, Misa Malkin fell 6-0 in the first set but fought from behind to send the second set to a tiebreak. Her Vanderbilt opponent came away with the win to tie things up 2-2.
The Commodores took the next point in straight sets on Court 6, but the Gamecocks would not go unanswered. No. 2 Hamner battled against No. 57 Anna Ross in a thrilling three sets. Hamner led most of the first set to win 6-4 but found her momentum halted when Ross came back from a 3-1 deficit. The Commodore took the second set 6-4 to force the third set.
The Gamecock freshman soon found her footing once more to build a 3-1 lead for the third time. She continued to stay ahead to earn the 6-3 final set win with a powerful forehand that Ross sent out of play. Hamner’s win marks her 30th on the season, making her the first Gamecock to reach the mark since 2009.
Graduate student Davies was the last to wrap up with the clinching point up for grabs. She continually led the first set to earn the 6-4 decision over Vanderbilt’s Holly Staff. Davies continued to control the second set, but Staff came back to tie things at six games all. Staff went up 5-2 in the tiebreak before Davies closed in 5-6 but it was Staff who would take the 7-6 (5) win to force a third set.
Davies pushed ahead 2-0 in the third set and Staff came back to tie things up. The two were neck-in-neck until Staff moved ahead 5-3. Davies caught up 5-4, but Staff ultimately came away with the 6-4 third set win to give Vanderbilt the 4-3 win.
South Carolina will continue its road slate when it faces Kentucky on Sunday at noon.