The Lady Barons won the AMCC Championship match against second seed Penn State Behrend 5-2 on Sunday, perfectly bookending a season of growth both on and off the court for the Lady Barons.
An enthusiastic Franciscan squad broke their pre-match huddle and took three courts as doubles commenced.
No. 2 doubles pair Madelyn Conrad and Grace Hammel appeared to pick up where they left off after yesterday’s match against Penn State Altoona. The freshmen played with poise and discipline, showing the aggression which has to this point typified their season. Conrad hit more than enough volley winners produced by Hammel’s strong serves, as the duo took the match 8-4.
Junior Maggie Vander Woude and sophomore Taranee Karimpour never gave their opponents a chance to get comfortable at No. 3 doubles. They swept their pro set 8-0, behind Vander Woude’s carefully executed poaches.
The Lady Barons took a 2-1 overall match lead into singles play, after senior Claire Haddad and sophomore Maria Binette couldn’t quite hang with their No. 1 doubles counterparts, losing 8-4.
Haddad soon extended the Lady Barons’ lead to 3-1, with a clutch win at No. 4 singles. Despite a recurring knee injury, the senior’s 6-0, 6-4 victory brought Franciscan that much closer to victory. After the match, head coach Jeremy Ellis would comment on just how crucial the play of Haddad and the other upperclassmen were for the Lady Barons over the weekend’s postseason competition.
After losing to her singles opponent during the regular season, Conrad played with something to prove at No. 1 singles. The freshman transformed consistent groundstrokes into a statement two-set win, 6-3, 6-4.
At 4-2, Franciscan needed only one more point to win just the second AMCC title in women’s tennis program history. Vander Woude couldn’t turn aggressive approach shots into a win at No. 5 singles, losing 6-4, 6-1.
With senior Erin Coyne just beginning a third set at No. 6 singles, eyes turned to the other two matches on the court, those of Hammel and Binette. Ultimately, it was Binette who brought the championship home for the Lady Barons, recording a 6-2, 7-5 victory over a difficult opponent.
The Lady Barons swarmed Binette’s court, in celebration of the perfect culmination of a productive season. Ellis remarked post-match that the women “will be traveling to Florida this year” over spring break, as part of their preparation for the NCAA tournament.
The Lady Barons will next play a match during the spring semester; as of now, they have earned a well-deserved respite.