April 29, 2012
DeKALB, Ill. -- As can be expected in championship final, top-seeded Miami and No. 2 Akron went toe-to-toe for three hours Sunday afternoon. But in the end, Akron proved to be one set better, defeating Miami 4-3 for the second straight year.
The loss ended the stellar careers of Stephanie Danesis, Riekie Honiball and Jessica Parr, who went through regular-season MAC play 32-0, won two MAC Tournament titles and made the first two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history.
Last year, the Zips rallied with wins in the final two matches for a 4-3 win as well. Unlike the regular-season meeting in March, Miami won the doubles point by winning at No. 1 and No. 2. In the top flight, the first five games were all breaks before Stephanie Danesis held serve for a 4-2 lead. The RedHawks maintained that lead until 6-4 when they broke serve, but Akron broke Christine Guerrazzi right back. But the Miami duo closed out the match with their fifth break of Akron's serve.
Seconds later, doubles play ended with an 8-3 win by Nimisha Mohan and Riekie Honiball at No. 2. The duo won the first five games, then traded serves for the win.
In the third doubles tie, Akron had just taken a 6-5 lead when play was abandoned.
Akron quickly took the lead by winning matches at No. 6, 6-3, 6-0, and at No. 1, 6-3, 6-2. Miami evened the score at 2-2 when Honiball defeated MAC Freshman of the Year Olga Shkundina 6-3, 6-2. The effort was one of Honiball's best of the season.
Akron posted a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 4 for a 3-2 lead, but Miami's Alix Thurman fought off a tough competitor at No. 5, 6-4, 6-4.
At the same time, Mohan forced a third set in the No. 3 match by winning the second set 7-5. She dropped the first set 6-3 and trailed 4-5 in the second, rallying to even the match.
But in the decicing set, Prang Pantusart took control, holding off a break point for a 1-0 lead. The Zip junior continue to put the pressure on, sweeping the final set.
Thurman and Honiball were selected to the all-tournament team for the RedHawks.
Miami concludes its season with a 14-10 recond.