IUP falls to Cal U for fourth straight year in PSAC finals
In the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference women’s tennis championship match, Indiana University of Pennsylvania fell 5-0 to the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans, something that has become a bit of a trend.
It was the fourth consecutive time the Vulcans and Crimson Hawks met in the championship game, and the fourth straight time IUP has lost to Cal U in the finals.
The Crimson Hawks finished 5-1 in conference play.
However, before IUP and California met, the Crimson Hawks had a match in the semifinals with PSAC East opponent Bloomsburg University.
The Crimson Hawks made quick work of the Huskies with a 5-0 victory in West Chester.
“I thought we played well,” head coach Larry Peterson said. “I think we are just a stronger of a program than they are.”
IUP’s No. 1 spot Tanya Timko (junior, psychology) earned another victory to continue her hot streak.
She defeated Maddie Graziani by scores of 6-2 and 6-1.
“Typically the No. 1 will be the toughest match, and every player has got at least one great player,” Peterson said. “It shows [Timko’s] playing very tough right now and has a ton of confidence going.”
IUP swept the doubles competition with its No. 1 duo of Timko and Erika Schnaas (junior, graphic design).
The Crimson Hawks also made quick work of the Huskies in singles competition with Alanna McFail (sophomore, biology) earning the clinching set victory, sending the team to the finals for the fourth straight year.
The victory meant a date with the rival Vulcans, who were looking for their eighth straight PSAC title.
IUP earned leads early in doubles competition, but Cal U closed it out and swept the doubles competition.
Peterson gave the Vulcans credit and said his team was unable to come out with a win.
“They handled the pressure and came back and closed out those matches,” Peterson said. “Obviously, if we get the 2-1 lead going into singles, it’s a totally different ball game.”
The teams moved to singles competition, but most of the matches went unfinished. Ramona Czakon of the Vulcans defeated Sophie Butland (freshman, exercise science) 6-2 and 6-1.
Czakon is the 38th-ranked player in the country.
Cal U’s Kiefer Shaw, who defeated Rachel Wood (freshman, criminology) in back-to-back 6-0 wins, won the PSAC title-clinching victory.
Despite losing, Peterson said he is satisfied with the improvement his team made and said the team is closing the gap on Cal U.
“As a team, we are starting to have belief that we can win on every single court against those guys,” Peterson said. “It’s nice to see us competing and competing hard at every start. At the end of the day, that’s all you can ask.”
The Crimson Hawks are almost guaranteed a position as one of two hosts in the NCAA Atlantic Region tournament, along with Cal U. The top two teams in each region host the first round.
However, the team still has stiff competition to play in West Liberty University and the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, N.Y.
Peterson said West Liberty would be a big match for the team.
“They’re a quality program, and I like where it is in our schedule,” Peterson said. “It’s nice to have a good, competitive home match to keep us playing.
“I’m looking forward to playing another quality match.”
IUP hosts the Hilltoppers Wednesday afternoon and travels to face the NYIT Bears Sunday.