The Rolla tennis team continued their tough road slate at the beginning of their season when they faced off against Richland on Thursday, Aug. 24. The match came down to the wire, but Richland was able to get revenge for two close losses last season by taking down Rolla 5-4.
Rolla beat Richland 5-4 twice last season and the Lady Bears were eager to hand Rolla a loss earlier in 2017. The Lady Bulldogs had the advantage early by controlling doubles. Rachel Butz and Laura McCutcheon won number one doubles 8-3, while Shannon Chan and Anne Christine Schultz won number three doubles by the same score. Olivia Burken and Rylee Kriete weren't quite able to finish the doubles sweep, but they had a great match against Lydia Novak and Kelsey Bunnell. The Lady Bulldog duo was able to push the match to within three sets, but fell 8-5.
While Rolla had the advantage in doubles, Richland had a great showing in singles. Rolla lost the number one and two singles by the same score, 8-2. Kriete had similar luck at number four singles, falling 8-3. Chan and Schultz gave Rolla a fighting chance when they each earned wins. Chan beat Kelsey Bunnell 8-1, while Schultz beat Hannah Black 8-2. That left the match tied at four and Burken locked into a barn burner against Novak. The two players were evenly matched and went needed a tiebreak to decide a winner. The tiebreaker was just as close, but Novak had the edge late and won the tie break 7-5 to win the match and give Richland the win as a team.
While Rolla dropped their third straight match to start the season, head coach Joe Schisler sees a lot of improvement out of his team.
"This week saw us getting better each day despite losing. Every player is growing and improving," said coach Schisler. "This was a fantastic match where all our efforts didn’t quite pay off. Our girls worked hard, played smart, and gave themselves and opportunity to win. Richland had just a little more in the tank and probably was a bit more determined after we beat them twice last year 5-4.
The Rolla head coach continued, "We won seven more doubles games and they won seven more singles games. Most of the individual matches were closer than scores indicate; great sportsmanship, deuce games and long rallies made the match memorable."
The JV played doubles and easily swept all three matches.