McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- Last year, the Lewis & Clark Pioneers hosted the Northwest Conference tournament on their way to their first conference title since 1979. In order to host again, the Pios certainly needed to win on Saturday afternoon at the Linfield Wildcats, who had ended Lewis & Clark's 18-match NWC regular season winning streak last weekend.
Lewis & Clark won a key doubles match, the No. 2 pairing that went to a 10-5 tiebreaker, and four singles matches, including three of the top four spots, to win 5-4 at the Linfield Tennis Center. The victory evens the season series between the two teams, although Lewis & Clark would still need some help to host the conference tournament. Still, six NWC duals remain on the Pios' schedule.
"We came to play today," said Lewis & Clark head coach Patrick Dreves, "Super proud of the girls. Awesome to have Natalie Kelly back in the mix after basketball, and she clinched the match for us."
Kelly won the No. 6 singles match, 6-3, 7-5, over Michelle Ly, which accompanied wins at No. 2-4 by Josie Legarza, Christine Eliazo and Kacey Incerpi. Playing at No. 2, Legarza's win was notable considering she was defeated in straight sets by her opponent, Elsa Harris, the first time the two met last week in Portland. Legaza won 6-3, 6-2 to improve to 4-1 in NWC matches. Eliazo remained undefeated with a 6-0, 6-1 win against Riley Clayeux in the No. 3 match-up. At No. 4, Incerpi beat Marisa Doveri, 6-0, 6-1.
The longest singles match was at No. 5, where Tash Hood lost 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to Basia Kopecka. In a battle of nationally-ranked competitors, No. 21 Ella Riddle defeated No. 13 Wiktoria Plawska, 6-3, 6-3, in the top singles match.
Plawska was victorious in doubles, pairing with Eliazo to beat Kopecka and Clayeux, 8-7 (10-5). The Pios pair is 5-0 in NWC matches this season. Legarza and Incerpi lost at No. 1 to eighth-ranked Riddle and Harris, 8-6, while Carla Thomas and Kelly lost 8-4 to Ly and Doveri.
Lewis & Clark is 5-1 in both the NWC and overall, while Linfield falls to 3-1 in the conference and 4-1 overall. The Pioneers host Pacific Lutheran on Sunday at 12 p.m.
Other Northwest Conference Matches - Saturday
Whitman 7, George Fox 2
Whitworth 8, Pacific 1
Puget Sound 6, Pacific Lutheran 3