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Hawaii Pacific extends its program’s best season

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Thunder claps.

Tahitian drumming.

Zora Vickova’s two-handed backhand shots.

There was lots of booming heard at Central Oahu Regional Park yesterday, but the loudest may have come from the tennis courts.

No. 5 Hawaii Pacific punched its ticket to next week’s NCAA Division II Tennis Championship in Florida when blanking PacWest foe Grand Canyon 5-0 in yesterday’s NCAA II West Region final.

Junior All-American Vickova and freshman Celeina Goetti combined for three of the Sea Warriors’ points, teaming to win their No. 1 doubles match 8-2 over freshmen Frederique Van de Velde and Marie Vanlerenberghe, and then their individual matches, No. 1 Vickova 6-2, 6-2 over Katharina Mittag, and No. 3 Goetti 6-1, 6-0 over Stephanie Haldeman. It took just over 2 hours for HPU (18-5) to advance to the Round of 16 for the second consecutive year.

The Sea Warriors had beaten the No. 13 Antelopes (16-5) twice this season, including 5-0 in the PacWest tournament two weeks ago at the BYU-Hawaii courts.

"We never underestimate anybody," said Vickova, improving to 14-1 in singles. "We always take it seriously. It was helpful that we had played them before and knew we could win. But it is a new match every time."

HPU’s other points came in doubles. No. 2 Aleksandra Stankovic and Ielyzaveta Rybakova — tied with Mittag and Halderman at 3-3 — pulled away for an 8-5 victory, and No. 3 Sandra Wikstrom and Carrie Shuler beat Kaila Knopf and Vanlerenberghe 8-3. (Four singles matches went unplayed after Vickova’s win clinched.)

"Every win is a good win," HPU coach Stefan Pampulov said. "I think every one of our players is very excited. It’s going to be a tough tournament, but this what we’ve been working for. We’ll take it one match at a time and see what happens."

Pampulov said he felt his current team has more talent than last year’s, which lost to Armstrong Atlantic in the NCAA semis. The Sea Warriors have their highest ranking in program history with losses to two Division I teams (Cal State Northridge and Loyola Marymount), two at the Las Vegas tournament (No. 1 Armstrong Atlantic and No. 3 Lynn), and to island rival Brigham Young-Hawaii (5-0 for the PacWest title).

The Seasiders (27-0) are No. 2 nationally and received a bye into the Round of 16.

"BYUH is a great team," Pampulov said. "We hope we’ll see them again.

"It does not matter what has happened the past 365 days. This is the postseason, and every match is a new one."

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