NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- No. 23 Tennessee's late rally attempt came up short against 20th-ranked Mississippi State, as the Vols lost, 4-1, in the second round of the SEC Tournament at the Brownlee O. Currey Jr., Tennis Center on Thursday.
"Our main goal was to come out, compete and bring a lot of energy, and we did that," Alison Ojeda said after the match. "We played a good Mississippi State team that is just better than us. We did a heck of a job almost pulling it out. We fought, so we are proud of ourselves for that."
UT (18-11) split the first two courts in doubles but the 6th-seeded Bulldogs claimed the doubles point with a win on Court 3. MSU's momentum carried over to singles, taking five of the six first sets. After going up 3-0, the Volunteers tried to rally, taking a court to make it 3-1 and forcing a third set on the remaining three. Mississippi State pulled away, though, and snagged the win on Court 6 to clinch the match.
"There was a point in the match where I felt like we could lose fairly handily," assistant coach Ty Schaub said. "Then, we scratched and clawed our way back into the match and a made a battle out of it. For that, I am really proud of the girls for fighting the way we did."
In doubles, Brittany Lindl and Eve Repic lost to the fifth-ranked team of Jasmine Lee and Lisa Marie Rioux, 6-1. The duo of Sadie Hammond and Gabby Schuck downed Jennifer Brown and Khrystyna Vozniak in a 6-3 match on Court 2.
In singles, Hammond and Lindl fell in straight sets, bring the deficit to 3-0. Silva got the Vols on the board with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Khrystyna Vozniak. UT began to build momentum, forcing the remaining three courts to a third set. It wasn't enough, though, as Sara Lizariturry took a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 match over Schuck on Court 6.
"We are excited to be where we are," Schaub said. "We have put ourselves in a good position going into the NCAA Tournament. We have to bounce back and get excited for the tournament. We are in a really good position to make a run. We have a lot to be motivated for once we are done taking a few days off."
Tennessee will now prepare for the NCAA Tournament, which will begin the second weekend of May. UT last made the postseason as a team during the 2014 season, when Lindl and Repic were freshmen. The selection show will take place on May 2 at 5:30 p.m.
"We are going to take some time off," Ojeda said about preparing for the tournament. "We have some players who could really benefit from some time off. Rarely in a season do you get to take four to six days off. I think we can afford to do that. We will watch film and do other things to get ready. To prepare for NCAAs, we need to freshen up. We will go back to practice and work hard.
"Our message to the girls will be that two out of the last three years, this has been the end of the season for Tennessee. For the majority of the country, this is it. They are done, and we aren't. We set some high goals at the beginning of the season and competing in the NCAA Tournament was one of them."
For the most up-to-date information about the Tennessee women's tennis program, follow @Vol_WTennis on Twitter.
No. 20 Mississippi State 4, No. 23 Tennessee 1
1. #10 Jasmine Lee (MSU) def. #42 Brittany Lindl (UT), 6-4, 6-0
2. Eve Repic (UT) vs. Lisa Marie Rioux (MSU), 1-6, 6-3, 5-3 unf.
3. Madison Harrison (MSU) def. Sadie Hammond (UT), 6-0, 6-2
4. Ariadna Riley (UT) vs. Anastasia Rentouli (MSU), 2-6, 7-6 (6), 1-0 unf.
5. Johanna Silva (UT) def. Khrystyna Vozniak (MSU), 6-3, 6-2
6. Sara Lizariturry (MSU) def. Gabby Schuck (UT), 6-2, 3-6, 6-2
1. #5 Lee/Rioux (MSU) def. #76 Repic/Lindl (UT), 6-1
2. Schuck/Hammond (UT) def. Brown/Vozniak (MSU), 6-3
3. Lizariturry/Harrison (MSU) def. Silva/Riley (UT), 7-5
Order of Finish: Doubles (1, 2, 3); Singles (3, 1, 5, 6)