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April 19, 2008
HOUSTON, TEXAS - The No. 2 seed and 50th-ranked Marshall University's women's tennis team defeated the No. 3 seed and 64th-ranked Rice University, 4-3, Saturday afternoon in the semifinal round of the Conference USA Championships at the University of Houston John E. Hoff Courts. The Thundering Herd improved to 17-8 overall while the Owls ended its season 12-10.
The 50th-ranked Herd will challenge the No. 1 seed and 48th-ranked Tulsa University, Sunday at 10 a.m. CT for the elite C-USA Championship title. Tulsa defeated the Herd in the 2007 C-USA final championship, 4-0, in Tulsa, Okla.
Tulsa holds the all-time series lead over Marshall, 1-0.
"Proud of our team for responding well after losing the doubles point," Marshall's head coach John Mercer said. "We were expecting to play a great and tough battle with Rice."
Rice came out early with two doubles victory to go ahead of the Herd 1-0 leading into singles competition. Jessica Keener (Reston, Va.) and Thaddea Lock (Bristol, England) fell to Varsha Shiva Shankar and Emily Braid, 8-4, at the number three. Tiffany Lee and Rebecca Lin took an 8-3 decision over Jeanne Schwartz (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and Isabell Raich (Klaus, Austria) at the number two slot.
The No. 31 nationally-ranked doubles pair of Kellie Schmitt (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Karolina Soor (Lindesberg, Sweden) did not finish against Julie Chao and Dominique Karas at the number one position.
The Owls took a 2-0 lead after Karas defeated Schwartz, 6-3, 6-3, at the number two. The Herd's Lock took a straight-set decision over Christine Dao, 6-4, 6-1, at the number five to put the Herd back one.
"Kellie and Thaddea did a good job finishing when they had the opportunity," Coach Mercer continued.
The 53rd-ranked Schmitt tied the Herd at two with another straight-set victory, 6-0, 6-2, over Chao at the number one slot. Raich shortly followed with a hard-fought battle for her 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Lin at the number four position.
With the match tied, three all, the Herd were looking at Keener and Soor to clench the victory. After a strong come back, Keener fell to Shankar, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7), at the number six.
For the second day in a row, the Herd's victory rested on Soor's shoulders. Soor came through again with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Lee at the number three position to send Marshall into the championship final for the second season in a row.
"Karolina and Isabell did a great job at really staying mentally and emotionally tough in their matches after losing tough first sets," Coach Mercer added. "Keener really worked hard to get in position to win but was one that got away at the end; we look for her to bounce back in the
The Herd improved its all-time series lead over the Owls, 3-1.
Complete brackets and updates on the C-USA women's tennis championship are available at http://conferenceusa.cstv.com/championships/08-w-tennis-championship.html or at http://herdzone.cstv.com/sports/w-tennis/mars-w-tennis-body.html.
Rice vs Marshall
4/19/2008 at Houson, Texas
#50 Marshall 4, #64 Rice 3
1. #53 Kellie Schmitt (MAR) def. Julie Chao (RICE) 6-0, 6-2
2. Dominique Karas (RICE) def. Jeanne Schwartz (MAR) 6-3, 6-3
3. Karolina Soor (MAR) def. Tiffany Lee (RICE) 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
4. Isabell Raich (MAR) def. Rebecca Lin (RICE) 2-6, 6-1, 6-3
5. Thaddea Lock (MAR) def. Christine Dao (RICE) 6-4, 6-1
6. Varsha Shiva Shankar (RICE) def. Jessica Keener (MAR) 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7)
1. #31 Kellie Schmitt/Karolina Soor (MAR) vs. Julie Chao/Dominique Karas (RICE) unfinished
2. Tiffany Lee/Rebecca Lin (RICE) def. Jeanne Schwartz/Isabell Raich (MAR) 8-3
3. Varsha Shiva Shankar/Emily Braid (RICE) def. Thaddea Lock/Jessica Keener (MAR) 8-4
Rice 17-5; National ranking #64
Marshall 17-8; National ranking #50
2008 Conference USA Women's Tennis Championship Semifinal No. 2