Tigers edge DU in championship match
Second-seeded Denison fell just short of its 12th North Coast Athletic Conference Championship on Sunday afternoon at the John W. Heisman Field House in Oberlin, Ohio. The Big Red erased a 3-0 deficit before suffering a 5-4 setback to 11th-ranked DePauw, who claimed their second-straight conference crown.
Things got off to a rocky start for DU on Sunday. In a race to five points, the Tigers took a commanding 3-0 lead after winning all the doubles flight. DePauw won second and third doubles with matching 8-2 scores. The top flight wasn't as easy for the tournament's top-seed. The Big Red duo of Kelsey Geppner and Alex Marcell gave Meg Crowley and Claire Marshall all they could handle. However, the DePauw tandem squeaked out a 9-7 decision to complete the sweep.
Despite falling in what looked like an insurmountable hole, Denison Head Coach Peter Burling rallied his troops before the start of singles play. Coach Burling's pep talk worked as the Big Red won first through fourth singles to take its first lead of the day, 4-3.
Freshmen Taylor Hawkins and Meg Chiumento started the rally with straight-set victories at the third and fourth flights. Hawkins knocked off Crowley 6-1, 6-4, while Chiumento defeated Julie Wittwer via 6-2, 6-3 scores.
With the deficit cut to one, the door was open for Geppner and Marcell at first and second singles, respectively. At the top flight, Geppner and Maggie MacPhail traded off 6-1 scores in the first two sets. In the third set, the two No. 1 singles players battled to a 6-6 tie through 12 points. In the tiebreaker, Geppner edged MacPhail 8-6 to tie the match at 3-3.
At second singles, Marcell took on Claire Marshall for the second time in two weeks. Like their match on April 14, the two needed three sets to declare a winner. Marcell took the opening set 6-4, while Marshall tied things up with a 6-4 win over her own. In the tiebreaker, the DU senior picked up the 7-5 decision, giving the Big Red a 4-3 lead with two flights to go.
Unfortunately, Denison couldn't complete the come-from-behind victory as the Tigers took the fifth and sixth flights in straight-sets.
The Big Red ends its season with a 15-6 record, while DePauw will take a 17-7 mark into the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.