Pioneers shut out Carson-Newman 5-0 in SAC quarterfinals

Africa Mota (left) and Amber Lackey won the opening doubles match for the Pioneers (photo by Chuck Williams)
Africa Mota (left) and Amber Lackey won the opening doubles match for the Pioneers (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum women's tennis team defeated Carson-Newman 5-0 in the quarterfinals of the South Atlantic Conference Championship tournament on Tuesday afternoon at the Nichols Tennis Complex.

The second-seeded Pioneers (20-1) advance to face third-seeded Queens in the semifinals on Friday at 9 a.m. at the Cayce Tennis Center in Columbia, South Carolina. The win enabled Tusculum to win 20 matches in a season for the fifth time in program history, and the first time in back-to-back years.

Tusculum claimed the first point of the match at flight two doubles, where Katarina Majorova and Franziska Funke teamed for an 8-1 victory over Ali Harris and Alisa Liashova. At flight three, Africa Mota and Amber Lackey beat Hannah Price and Mallory Jackson by an 8-2 score to give Tusculum a 2-0 lead.

At flight one, the Pioneers' 23rd-ranked team of Annie McCullough and Caitlin McCullough were taken to a tiebreaker by the Eagles' Jill Corsato and Abby Reis. Facing match point at 6-7, the McCulloughs won the final three points of the tiebreak for an 8-7 pro-set victory and a 3-0 Tusculum lead heading to singles.

In singles, Majorova extended Tusculum's lead to 4-0 with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Harris at flight one, then Mota clinched the match with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Jackson at flight six. The Pioneers had a one-set lead in three of the other four singles matches with the seventh-seeded Eagles (7-10) at the moment of clinching.

Friday's match against Queens will mark the fifth consecutive season that the Pioneers and Royals have played in the SAC semifinals. Tusculum won last year's meeting 5-1 after falling to Queens in both 2015 and 2016. The Pioneers also beat the Royals in 2014 en route to the SAC championship.

The other semifinal match between top-seeded Wingate and fourth-seeded Newberry will also be played at 9 a.m. on Friday, with the winners meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday for the SAC Championship.