HICKORY, N.C. --- The Tusculum University women's tennis team earned its second straight win over a ranked opponent as the Pioneers beat 44th-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne University 5-2 Friday afternoon to remain unbeaten in the South Atlantic Conference.
The 37th-ranked Pioneers (10-2, 6-0 SAC) earned their seventh straight win by taking four of the six singles matches from the Bears (13-3, 4-2 SAC) after winning the doubles point. Three of the singles wins came in three sets, with the Pioneers rallying to win two of the matches. Tusculum beat Lenoir-Rhyne two days after claiming a 5-2 road win at 17th-ranked Queens.
Tusculum's number-two doubles team of Julia Lopez and Africa Mota beat Diana Babinets and Gemma Southwick 6-2, but Lenoir-Rhyne won at flight three to set up a battle for the team point at flight one. However, the Pioneers' Annie McCullough and Caitlin McCullough won their ninth straight match with a 6-4 win over Sanne Janssen and Emily Murchland.
Lenoir-Rhyne tied the match at 1-1 as Ally Garofoli beat Mota 6-2, 6-2 at flight five of singles, but Emilie Hansen pushed the Pioneers in front with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Iulia Ponomareva at flight three. Annie McCullough also rallied in her match at flight one, beating Southwick 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and Caitlin McCullough delivered the clinching point with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 victory at flight two over Marta Escanero Funes.
The Bears' Babinets won 6-3, 2-6, (10-4) over Lopez at flight four, but Martina Marras closed the day for the Pioneers by beating Murchland 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) at flight six.
Tusculum will step outside its conference schedule with a home match against Bluefield State on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Nichols Tennis Complex.