Hawaii Pacific men, women move on
It was a long day for Stefan Pampulov, but a very successful one.
The Hawaii Pacific tennis coach saw both his men's and women's teams earn a berth in next week's NCAA Division II round of 16 in Houston via second-round victories yesterday at Central Oahu Regional Park.
There was little suspense yesterday morning as ninth-ranked HPU swept Sonoma State 5-0. But the No. 16 Sea Warriors women got more of a battle in the afternoon from interisland rival Hawaii-Hilo, going nearly 4 hours before defeating the 19th-ranked Vulcans 5-2.
"I was not surprised how close it was," said Pampulov, whose women led 3-2 before clinching it with wins in Nos. 4 and 6 singles. "Hilo is always tough and comes ready to play.
"Winning (No. 2 doubles) was very important. We were very happy to be ahead 2-1 at that point."
The match may have turned on the 1-hour, 45-minute marathon that HPU pulled out 9-7. The Vulcans' Susan Souksavath and Nicole Campbell led 6-3 and 7-6, and had three match points on the Sea Warriors' Nina Mihova and Anastasia Ageychik but couldn't close it out.
At 7-7 and 30-30, the umpire overruled an out serve call, putting the Sea Warriors up 40-30. Souksavath smashed a lobbed ball back to tie it at 40-40, but HPU took two quick points for an 8-7 lead.
Souksavath opened with an ace for 15-love, but HPU took advantage of a double-fault and two Vulcan hitting errors to pull out the match.
"It was hard watching our No. 2 lose, especially after having match point," said UHH sophomore Christie Pagatpatan. "But everyone is still fighting."
Pagatpatan was part of the Vulcans' two victories. She teamed with Eve Castaing at No. 1 doubles for an 8-6 win, punctuating it with a match-ending ace. She also swept Mihova at No. 2 singles 6-4, 6-2.
"Losing that (No. 2) doubles wasn't just losing a point," Vulcan coach Kula Oda said. "It also carries over to singles.
"It's been a fun year. We have a pretty young team and I've really enjoyed them. And next year we're hosting (the Pacific West Conference) championship on the Big Island."
Yesterday was the fourth time in five meetings that HPU topped Hawaii-Hilo (14-12). The Lady Sea Warriors next face Northwood (Mich.) on Wednesday.
The HPU men (19-1) also will see Northwood in Wednesday's round of 16. The Sea Warriors punched their ticket yesterday morning after taking all three doubles matches against Sonoma State then picking up the clinching wins at Nos. 2 and 4 singles. HPU was leading in the other four matches when play was halted.
"It's more fun when we can take the two teams," said Pampulov, a former HPU All-American, who had both teams in the round of 16 last season. "Both have been successful and they have the same goals.
"BYU-Hawaii is on the other side (of the bracket) and our goal is to play them in the finals. It happened when I played at HPU. It's a great experience to have two Hawaii teams in the final."
It can only happen on the women's side next week.
Yesterday, the BYU-Hawaii men's team lost at UC San Diego 5-0. The Seasiders finish the year at 8-3.