The women played Friday and Saturday this past weekend with 13 of the 16 national seeds advancing to the Sweet 16. The last time 3 regional hosts exited prior to the Sweet 16 was 15 years ago in 2006 when #10 California, #13 Pepperdine, and #15 Clemson went home early
USC may have entered the NCAA Tournament with an ITA ranking of No. 35 but that didn’t stop the Trojans from pulling off a pair of upsets to advance to Orlando. In USC’s opening round match against No. 22 Oklahoma, the Trojans came back from a 3-1 deficit to pull off a thrilling 4-3 win. Both Dani Wilson and Constance Branstine came back from a set down to win identical 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 scorelines at No. 3 and No. 5 singles. In the second round against host Florida, the Trojans grabbed the early lead after taking the doubles point and then picked up straight set wins in singles from Eryn Cayetano, Summer Dvorak, and Clare McKee. USC will be the lowest ranked team to play in a Sweet 16 match since 2004 when No. 44 Arizona State advanced past LSU and Texas in the opening two rounds before falling to Pac-12 rival Washington
Michigan, ranked No. 20, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the ninth time since 2010 with a 4-1 win over No. 40 Rice and 4-3 win over regional host No. 12 seed LSU. In the first round versus Rice, the Wolverines took the doubles point and four first sets and eventually won it when Chiara Lommer closed out her match at No. 2 singles 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. In the second round against higher ranked LSU, Michigan dropped the doubles point and then found itself down 3-1 with all 3 remaining matches in a third set. The Wolverines ended up winning all three matches with Kari Miller winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at No. 1, Alyvia Jones winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 at No. 5, and Bella Lorenzini clinching at No. 6 with a 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 win. Lorenzini trailed 5-3 in the final set and was only two points away from defeat at 4-5* (30/0).
Duke, ranked No. 18, is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season after the Blue Devils advanced out of the Baylor regional. In the opening round, Duke dominated No. 43 Alabama 4-0 with the Blue Devils winning 8 of 9 completed sets in singles. In the second round against No. 8 Baylor, Duke dropped the doubles point with the decider finishing in a tiebreak and then the teams split opening sets in singles. Georgia Drummy, Chloe Beck, and Meible Che won lopsided matches at 2, 3, and 4, with the trio only dropping a combined 8 games, and senior Kelly Chen came back from 3-6, 1-3 down to win the deciding match at No. 1 singles 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Top ranked North Carolina booked its 11th straight trip to the Sweet 16 with 4-0 wins over South Carolina State and Old Dominion. The Tar Heels only dropped 8 games in singles against SCSU and then in the second round against ODU they won 9 of 10 completed sets in singles though many of the sets were more competitive.
Texas, ranked/seeded No. 2, rolled through its regional with 4-0 wins over No. 52 Denver and No. 31 Arizona State. In the first round against Denver. the Horns won all 8 completed sets in singles and then in the second round against ASU they won 8 of 9 sets.
Third-seeded Georgia advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 10th straight season after defeating Austin Peay and No. 32 Wake Forest. The Bulldogs won all 9 completed sets in singles against APSU but Wake put up much more resistance in the second round. The Deacs managed to force 3 third sets and won the match at No. 3 singles but Morgan Coppoc clinched the 4-1 win at No. 4 singles 6-4, 2-6, 6-0.
UCLA, ranked/seeded No. 4, booked its spot in the final 16 with 4-0 wins over Grand Canyon and No. 30 Texas Tech. The Bruins won all 9 sets in singles against GCU with its bottom three spots only dropping a total of 3 games. In the second round against Texas Tech, the teams split opening sets in singles but before the Red Raiders could get on the board UCLA closed out 1, 4, and 6 in straight sets.
Fifth-seeded Pepperdine advanced to the second week of play for the 5th straight season after defeating Northern Arizona and defending NCAA champion No. 27 Stanford. In the opener against NAU the Waves only dropped 1 game in singles at the 3 through 6 spots but they’d get all they wanted and more from Stanford the following day. The Cardinal took the early lead after claiming the doubles point and each team took three opening sets in singles. With the overall score tied at 2, Stanford had leads on two of the three remaining courts but the Waves would come back to get 3-set wins from Ashley Lahey and Jessica Failla to pull out the 4-2 win.
NC State, ranked/seeded No. 6, cruised past VCU in the opening round before being tested in a 4-2 win over No. 36 Iowa State. The Wolfpack won all 7 completed sets in singles against VCU in a match that was played indoors due to rain. In the second round, NCST took the doubles point and four first sets in singles but with ISU making a late charge Jaeda Daniel would shut the door on the Cyclones comeback attempt with a 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 4.
Seventh-seeded Florida State advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time with a 4-0 win over Alabama State and a 4-1 win over No 19 Auburn. The Seminoles won all 9 completed sets in singles against ASU but had 3 matches go to a third set against Auburn. FSU picked up straight set wins from Nandini Das and Victoria Allen at No. 3 and No. 5 with Petra Hule clinching at No. 4 with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.
UCF, ranked/seeded No. 9, won its first-ever NCAA Tournament match in 2018 but now has made the Sweet 16 for the second straight year after a 4-0 win over Charleston Southern and a 4-1 win over No. 23 Miami. The Knights only dropped 11 games in singles against CSU but would have to come from behind against Miami after dropping the doubles point. UCF overpowered Miami in singles winning 10 of 11 sets and Rebeka Stolmar clinched the win at No. 2 with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory.
Texas A&M was the only seeded team that had to travel on the opening weekend but the No. 10 Aggies rose to the occasion and defeated Drake 4-0 and No. 21 Northwestern 4-2. In the opener against Drake, A&M won 8 of 9 sets in singles. In the second round against host Northwestern, A&M dropped the doubles point and lost a quick match at No. 4 singles to go down 2-0. However the Aggies would take four opening sets in singles and close each of them out in straight sets with Katya Townsend clinching at No. 3 with a 6-4, 7-5 win. Texas A&M has now made the Sweet 16 six times in the last eight seasons.
Georgia Tech, ranked No. 11/seeded No. 13, cruised into the Sweet 16 with a 5-0 win over Georgia Southern and a 4-0 win over No. 63 North Florida. The Yellow Jackets won all 10 completed sets in singles against GSU and then took 8 of 10 against a North Florida team that had upset No. 25 Ole Miss 4-3 the day prior.
Virginia, ranked No. 13/seeded No. 14, will return to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 5 years after defeating LIU 4-0 and No. 15 Tennessee 4-2. The Cavaliers won all 9 completed sets in singles against LIU to set up a match against a Tennessee squad that was only ranked two spots behind it in the rankings. UVA won the doubles point and then added four opening sets in singles. All five matches that finished did so in straight sets with Tennessee getting wins at No. 3 and No. 6 while UVA won at No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 with Hibah Shaikh clinching 7-5, 6-1 at No. 4.
Ohio State, ranked No. 16/seeded No. 15, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third time in program history with wins over UIC and No. 28 Vanderbilt. In the opening round against UIC, the Buckeyes won 9 of 10 completed sets in singles. Against Vanderbilt in the second round, the Commodores jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Ohio State rallied with straight set wins at No. 2, No. 4, and No. 6 to take a 3-2 lead. Anessa Lee tied the match at 3-3 with a 6-3, 7-5 win at No. 3 but in the only match to go three-sets Ohio State’s Lucia Marzal would get the clincher with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 victory at No. 5.
California, ranked No. 17/seeded No. 16, will return to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2017 after a 4-0 win over San Jose State and a 4-2 win over No. 26 Kentucky. The Bears won 8 of 9 completed sets in singles against SJSU but Kentucky managed to split opening sets in the second round match. Cal led 3-1 after quick wins at No. 5 and No. 6 but a three-set win by Lesedi Jacobs at No. 2 pulled UK to within 3-2. Both of the other two matches went to a third set and despite failing to close it out at 5-4 Jada Bui would serve it out the second time around to win 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.
Other notes from the opening weekend
- Iowa State, North Florida, and Old Dominion won their first-ever NCAA Tournament matches
- Stanford failed to win two matches at the NCAAs for the first time since 1985
Sunday, May 16 (Round of 16)
#3 Georgia vs. #14 Virginia (10:00 am)
#6 NC State vs. USC (10:00 am)
#2 Texas vs. #15 Ohio State (1:00 pm)
#7 Florida State vs. #10 Texas A&M (1:00 pm)
#4 UCLA vs. #13 Georgia Tech (4;00 pm)
#5 Pepperdine vs. Michigan (4:00 pm)
#1 North Carolina vs. #16 California (7:00 pm)
#9 UCF vs. Duke (7:00 pm)