It was a race to the finish Monday afternoon in the South Central Region #2 Championship at the MSU Tennis Center.
Midwestern State (17-6) swept through doubles play and all six singles claimed first set victories, so it was just a matter of who would do the honors to send the Mustangs to their third-straight trip to the NCAA Division II Round of 16.
Senior Taylor Coffman delivered the first blow with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Rafaela Haegele at the No. 2 position to set up sophomore Paige Boykin for the 6-2, 6-0 clincher at No. 5 to send the Mustangs to Surprise, Ariz.
"Our leadership and maturity are strong points for us. We've been able to use a competitive schedule to prepare quality ladies for a run at a championship," MSU coach Scott Linn said. "Taylor has played excellent singles but hasn't gotten the credit she has earned. She has been fantastic the last two years."
Midwestern takes on No. 12-ranked California (Pa.) in the Round of 16 in a match set for 6 p.m. (Central Time) on Wednesday, May 13 at the Surprise Racquet and Tennis Club. The winner advances to face either No. 18 Southwest Baptist (Mo.) or No. 47 Indianapolis (Ind.) on May 14.
"This is another opportunity for us in the Round of 16. I'm sure we are going to be better prepared for a better outcome this year," Linn said.
The Mustangs reached the Sweet Sixteen for the third consecutive season and for the fifth time in program history. The feat was never in question against Hilltoppers.
Junior Maddie Schorlemmer and Boykin clinched the first win of the day 8-4 at No. 2 doubles right before Coffman and junior Kayla Casey came off the court with an 8-6 win at the No. 1 position.
Junior Lauren Pineda and Lindsay Nochowicz cinched the sweep with a convincing 8-2 win at the No. 2 spot, then the race was on for the clincher.
Sophomore Courtney Anderson was a game away with a 6-0, 5-0 edge over Francesca Chaher at No. 4, but just feet away Schorlemmer was also closing in taking the first set 6-2 before going 5-5 in the second with Ivana Zecevic at No. 3.
Freshman Carrie Casey held a 6-3, 3-2 lead over Marissa Williams at No. 6, while sister Kayla Casey jumped out to a set lead at 6-2 but trailed Alexandra Khadhyzan 5-2 in the second frame.
St. Edward's closes the season with an 11-9 having won three of their last four -- all against nationally ranked competition -- heading into the postseason.
"(SEU coach) Kendall (Brooks) has done an excellent job with the St. Edward's program. They played great tennis late in the year to earn a spot in the postseason," Linn said.
Midwestern State senior Brenna Moore fired a season-low 69 to top the leader board leading the Mustangs to third-place showing after the opening round of the NCAA Division II Women's Super Region Four Championships at the Par-72, 5,842-yard course at the Foxtail Golf Club in Rohnert Park, Calif.
"Brenna's 69 was impressive," MSU coach Jeff Ray said. "A bogey-free round at this level is impressive. She drove the ball great today. Some holes she just overpowered. Other girls were 130-150 out; Brenna would be 100-120 yards out."
Moore is tied with Academy of Art (Calif.)'s Crystal Wong for first place at conclusion of the first round. The duo holds a two-stroke lead over Sonoma State's Alexis Hayes and Sarah Rotter and St. Mary's (Texas)'s Allison Howarth -- all fired 1-under 71s.
The Mustangs fought through a lull in the middle of the round to finish with a 12-over team total of 300 to stand six strokes behind tournament co-leaders Sonoma State and Academy of Art.
"The girls played a very solid first round," Ray said. "As a team we started great through the first 5 or 6 holes. We struggled in the middle stretch, but had a great stretch the last 4 or 5 holes."
The Mustangs got it going on Hole No. 16 to rise into third place, a place the team would like to hold following the final round. The top three advance to the NCAA Division II Championships set for May 13-16 at The Meadows Golf Course in Allendale, Mich.
"(Sophomore) Hayley (Dambold) playing the 4 spot birdied 16, Sarah (Moore) and Sierra (Campbell) also birdied," Ray said. "Brenna was left of green behind a tree and made a great par. That proved to be a very pivotal hole."
Campbell carded a 4-over 75 while Dambold notched a 5-over 77 and freshman Sarah Moore contributed the fourth countable score with a 7-over 79.
"Sierra was very solid again. She is making shooting 75 on tough course look easy," Ray said. "Hayley has had trouble finishing rounds. Today she did a great job of staying focused and finishing strong."
Midwestern State begins the second round of play at 12:30 p.m. (Central Time) on Tuesday.
Midwestern State struggled with the putter Monday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Division II West/South Central Regional Championship played at the Par-72, 6,747-yard Hiddenbrooke Golf Course in Vallejo, Calif.
The Mustangs closed the first round with a 27-over team total of 315 to stand tied for 15th with California State, San Bernardino heading into Tuesday's second round.
"The wind was pretty stiff and it stayed cold all day," MSU assistant coach Chester Butts said. "The course played pretty difficult. The greens played really slick and the guys didn't handle it well. The guys had a tough time and let a few strokes get away."
The top five teams advance and two highest finishing individuals not on an advancing team move on to the NCAA Division II Championships set for the Rock Barn Golf and Spa in Conover, N.C. from May 18-22.
Senior Derek Oland paced the Mustangs with an opening round 76 (+4) to stand tied for 31st, six strokes off of the pace of Dominican (Calif.)'s Ty Macias and California State-East Bay's Adam Stone, who both fired 2-under 70s.
Sophomore Tom Smith is tied for 45th with a first-round 78 (+6) while freshman Will Mullins (79/+7) and sophomore Jared Baker (82/+10) logged MSU's other two countable scores placing 57th and 81st, respectively.
Sophomore Luke Thomas carded an 85 to tie for 97th through the first 18 holes of tournament play.
California State-Monterey Bay tops the team leader board with a 2-over total of 290 followed by Simon Fraser (B.C.) (296/+8), Sonoma State (Calif.) (300/+12), Chico State (Calif.) (302/+14) and Colorado Mines (302/+14).