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IU closes out regular season with a win, clinching Big Ten Tournament berth



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Freshman Michelle McKamey celebrates winning a point during her doubles match with partner Caitlin Bernard. The Hoosiers defeated Rutgers to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament.  Sam House Buy Photos

IU picked up its 17th win of the season after beating Rutgers 5-2 on Sunday. This is the Hoosiers' most wins since the 2013-2014 season.

IU secured a spot in the Big Ten Tournament, going 4-7 in conference play. The Hoosiers beat Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State and Rutgers.

IU started conference play 0-3 after playing two teams ranked inside the top ten in the country. IU went to No. 6 Illinois, then No. 5 Northwestern, and closed its three-game road trip off with a 4-0 loss at Michigan State. 

After the first three away matches, IU had six conference matches at home. The Hoosiers won their conference home opener 5-2 against Minnesota, and they followed that win with a 4-3 comeback win against Iowa after trailing the Hawkeyes 3-1.

After IU’s two-game win streak, IU dropped three conference matches in a row, losing to Nebraska, Purdue and No. 35 Ohio State.

The Hoosiers closed out their home stand the same way they started it — with a win. IU beat Penn State 5-2, which put them in a good position to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Tournament.

With two final regular season games at Maryland and Rutgers, one win would be enough for IU to qualify for the tournament.

The Terrapins edged IU 4-3. IU won the doubles point, and junior Madison Appel won her match at No. 1 singles 6-2, 6-2 to put the Hoosiers up 2-0. 

Maryland took a 3-2 lead when it got wins in the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 singles with sophomore Caitlin Bernard, junior Natalie Whalen and senior Xiwei Cai.

Freshman Jelly Bozovic was down 4-0 in the third set, but she fought back and won 7-5 to tie the match at 3-3.

It came down to freshman Michelle McKamey in the third set at No. 6 singles. McKamey lost 7-5, and Maryland won the match 4-3. 

“She didn’t have the crowd in her favor, which makes that situation tougher,” IU Coach Ramiro Azcui said. “She did what she needed to do, but she just made some mistakes. Credit to Maryland, and I am proud of the way Michelle battled until the very end.”

In IU’s final match of the regular season against Rutgers, the Hoosiers took the lead and kept it.

IU won the doubles point and McKamey and freshman Olga Zavarotnaya won in straight sets at No. 5 and No.6 singles to give IU a 3-0 lead. 

Cai clinched the match at No. 4 singles, and Appel added another point with her win at No. 1 singles. Bernard and Whalen lost at No. 2 and No. 3 singles.

IU will leave early next week for the Big Ten Tournament in Minneapolis. The Hoosiers are waiting to see who they will face in the first round, once the tournament brackets are announced.

Azcui said he is excited for his players and the program, and he is proud of the way his players have taken ownership of this team and the energy they brought to every match.

“We are ready to make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament,” Azcui said. 

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