USC qualifies for state in nail-biter

Published 12:03am Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rebels defeat Bucs in Section 2A finals

For the first time since 2007, the United South Central girls’ tennis team is headed to state.

The Rebels — the No. 1 seed in Section 2A — earned wins in the semifinal and final rounds on Monday at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter to cement its spot at the state tournament.

The quarterfinal round was played in Wells on Wednesday.

USC’s road to state included a first-round bye, a 5-2 win over No. 8-seed Le Sueur-Henderson in the quarterfinals, a 7-0 win over No. 5-seed Jordan in the semifinals and a 4-3 victory over No. 2-seed Blue Earth in the finals.

“I thought our whole team had a great attitude,” said USC’s third-year head coach Jill Bailey. “The intensity was sky-high, which was what we needed.”

The Rebels won three of four singles matches, but Blue Earth tied it up by winning No. 1 and No. 2 doubles. USC needed a win at No. 3 doubles to tip the scales its favor.

Bailey said her No. 3 doubles team of Emma Barnd and Kelly Neubauer trailed 5-2 against Jordan and Blue Earth, but they rallied to win both.

“They really picked it up when they needed to, and they came back to win both of those sets in a tie-breaker,” Bailey said. “They were like tie-breaker queens.”

Claire Christian, Kia Legred and Julia Stenzel of USC were undefeated in singles action on Monday, as was the team of Barnd and Neubauer in doubles.

Next, the Rebels (20-2 overall) will compete at the state tournament at the Reed-Seatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis on Oct. 22.

However, some USC tennis players will be in action on an individual level before then. The Section 2A individual tournament will be at Gustavus Adolphus College at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Individual stats are in the Scoreboard: Oct. 7 post.