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ND Women’s Tennis: Ciobanu brings team over the net for a win

Molly Sammon | Monday, March 22, 2010

Senior Cosmina Ciobanu came through under pressure Friday, as her three-set victory over Rachel Dillon of No. 17 Vanderbilt at No. 4 singles secured a 4-3 win for No. 3 Notre Dame.
“It was a good match for us, but we learned a lot from it,” Irish sophomore Kristy Frilling said. “We needed that close of a match because I think it’s important for us to experience that you can’t go through a season just coasting.”
Since switching their pairings around earlier in the season, the Irish doubles teams have won their point in each contest.
The Irish won the doubles point after defeating the Commodores’ pairings in the first and third doubles slots. The first doubles team of Frilling and senior Kali Krisik, ranked No. 4 in the nation, topped their No. 27 opponents 8-3 to improve to 11-0 on the season. The Irish fell at second doubles, leaving the crucial doubles point up for grabs. The third doubles pairing of Ciobanu and senior Colleen Rielley came through, 8-6, for an early Irish lead to secure that point.
“It helped a lot to win the doubles point, and we would have lost the match otherwise,” Frilling said. “Everyone seems to have found their partner and the doubles teams are doing well at this point.”
In singles competition, the Commodores and the Irish traded the lead back and forth as freshman Chrissie McGaffigan and junior Kristen Rafael added two points to the total. Losses from Rielley and sophomore Shannon Mathews, and an upset by Vanderbilt’s No. 38 Catherine Newman over Frilling left the match’s decision up to the final contest between Ciobanu and Dillon.
“I didn’t feel like I played my best,” Frilling said. “I was definitely disappointed, and I feel like I didn’t adjust really well to her game.”
After winning the first set and losing the second, Ciobanu’s eight-match win streak was greatly threatened heading into the third set. But Ciobanu won the tiebreak point and the match for Notre Dame.
“[Ciobanu] was playing a girl with a huge serve, [but] she adjusted really well, came through for us and pulled out the win,” Frilling said.
Beating Vanderbilt improved Notre Dame’s overall record to 13-2 and picked up its spirits after last week’s loss to No. 7 Duke. The 4-3 victory suggests minor adjustments need to be made before the Irish get too comfortable as the nation’s No. 3 team, Frilling said.
“It was a lot closer than what we want our matches to be,” she said. “We’ve been meeting with everyone and talking about improving. We’re talking about the mindset about playing for the best and fighting for every point.”
The Irish will be back on the courts against TCU at Kansas State in Wichita, Kan., Saturday.