Boiling Springs, N.C. - Erica White and Rokia Sacko each picked up singles and doubles wins on the day, but GWU's women's tennis team was unable to hold off North Carolina Central, falling 4-3 in the Runnin' Bulldogs' regular season finale Saturday at the Webb Tennis Complex.
Saturday's match marks the conclusion of Gardner-Webb's regular season with the Big South Conference Tournament next on the schedule (April 17-19).
Against North Carolina Central (12-7, 5-1 MEAC), Gardner-Webb (8-12, 3-6 Big South) got off to a great start, earning 8-4 doubles wins at both the No. 1 and No. 2 positions to score the opening doubles point.
ITA No. 90 doubles tandem Erica White and Jenny Lunde teamed up to win 8-4 against Palko/Muamba at the No. 1 slot. Rokia Sacko and Yasmin Doost added an 8-4 No. 2 doubles win over Nekrasova/Wood to give GWU a 1-0 lead early in the match.
GWU found itself in a fight during singles play with an even 1-1 score after a North Carolina Central win by default at No. 6 singles. The Eagles would win the first set at the No. 2, 3, and 4 positions to pressure the Runnin' Bulldogs further.
White (Charleston, W.Va.) scored the first singles point of the match at No. 1, winning 6-2, 6-2 against Olesya Palko. The senior improved to 17-3 in singles play on the season with the win in giving GWU a 2-1 advantage.
North Carolina Central responded with wins at No.'s 2 and 4 singles to move within a point of winning the team match.
While Lunde and Aissa Muamba battled at toward the end of set two at No. 3 singles, Sacko (Montreal, Canada) finished off a 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 triumph at the No. 5 slot. The freshman outlasted North Carolina Central's Mia Ramic to score her sixth straight singles win to date.
With the team scoring tied at 3-3 after Sacko's win at No. 5 singles, the attention swung to a pivotal second set marathon at No. 3 between Lunde (Oslo, Norway) and Muamba.
Down 5-4, Lunde fought off two match points to break Muamba's serve and stay alive. The junior found herself back on the ropes, however, when Muamba countered to win the next game and serve with the match on the line at 6-5.
The pair exchanged points during a tense game with Muamba serving to end her match and decide the overall outcome between Gardner-Webb and North Carolina Central. Ultimately, Lunde fought off four match points in the game to force a second set tiebreak, which she would take by a 7-2 margin to force a deciding third set.
Muamba took control of set three early, earning a 5-2 lead and serving for the match win. Lunde never let down, however, winning the next game to claw back into it at 5-4. North Carolina Central would win the point at No. 3 singles when Muamba held serve to finish off a dramatic 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4 victory.
Saturday's thrilling match concludes GWU's exciting 2013 regular season with all eyes now on the Big South Conference Tournament, to be played next weekend Wednesday through Friday.
Prior to GWU's home finale on Saturday, senior Erica White was honored for an impressive career both on and off the tennis court.
The 2013 Big South Conference Women's Tennis Championship Tournament, held in Rock Hill, S.C., is next on the schedule for the Runnin' Bulldogs.