Wildcats dominate play in semifinals of Midwest Regional Tournament

David McCoy

By the time day five of the ITA Midwest Regional Tournament rolled around Monday at the Baseline Tennis Center, Northwestern’s women were in complete control.

Three of the four players in the semifinals were from Northwestern.

But for one Wildcat, that turned out to be a bad thing.

In the semifinals, sophomore Alexis Prousis was forced to play her teammate Audra Cohen, the top-ranked college player in the country.

If Prousis would have beaten Cohen, she would have qualified for the National Indoor Tournament.

But the loss cost her the trip.

“She played better,” Prousis said. “It’s tough, but you just get better from it I guess.”

What made it even more difficult on Cohen and Prousis was the fact that Cohen had already qualified for the Indoor Tournament at a previous event.

“The hardest thing you do as a team player is have to play one of your teammates,” Cohen said. “It was slightly ridiculous that we had to play. I think it makes it really hard to play a teammate who’s fighting for something so hard.”

Cohen dominated the match, winning 6-3, 6-3 and even pulling off a few trick shots in the process.

On one particular volley, Cohen was forced to retreat from the front of the net to the back corner, and impressively hit the shot backwards between her legs to gain a point.

In the other semifinal match, the Wildcats’ Cristelle Grier defeated Wisconsin’s Katie McGaffigan.

After cruising through the pack on her way to the semifinals, Grier had her hands full with McGaffigan, finally defeating her by scores of 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

Grier and Cohen won the doubles tournament earlier in the day Monday, cruising to an easy 8-3 victory over Brianna Knue and Macall Harkins of Illinois.

As luck would have it, Cohen and Grier, who were teammates in the doubles tournament, were set to play against each other for the championship in the singles tournament.

And ironically, it was the second time this year it has happened to them.

But this time, today’s match was canceled, because Grier and Cohen were both from the same team and had already qualified for the Indoor Tournament.

Men’s golf

Minnesota’s men’s golf team is tied for sixth place after the first round of the Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge, held Monday at Brandon Dunes Golf Course in Brandon, Ore.

The tournament pits the Big Ten Conference against the Pac-10. Each conference will count its six lowest scores to determine which conference wins the tournament.

The Pac-10 currently has a 38-stroke lead over the Big Ten, 70-over to 108-over par.

The 20th-ranked Gophers were led by sophomore Bronson La’Cassie and junior Ryan Paulson, who shot scores of 74 and 76, respectively in the poor and rainy weather, which forced tournament officials to shorten the tournament to 36 holes.

Minnesota is tied with Indiana and currently trails 19th-ranked UCLA by 13 strokes.

Coach Brad James said he was rather disappointed with his team’s performance.

“We’ve been playing in weather like this the last couple of weeks,” James said. “I felt we should have performed a lot better than this.”

James also said he was somewhat surprised to see the Pac-10 on top.

“Being from the Midwest, we’re a little more used to this kind of weather,” James said. “Our players have a lot of work to do.”

The final round of play will begin today at 11 a.m. CDT.

Volleyball

Minnesota sophomore setter Kelly Bowman was named American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Week and also Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Monday.

Bowman shares the Big Ten honor with Wisconsin freshman setter Jackie Simpson.

Bowman’s awards came after she averaged nine assists, three kills, three digs, and a hitting percentage of .556 last weekend versus Indiana and Purdue.

After sweeping both Indiana and Purdue on the road last weekend, Minnesota maintained its No. 2 ranking in the AVCA poll for the third week in a row.

Minnesota has now been in the top 10 five weeks in a row, and is the only team in the nation to have remained in the top five for all nine weeks of the poll.

Swimming and diving

Minnesota’s men’s swimming and diving team is ranked seventh in the first poll of the season.

The defending Big Ten champions are the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the poll, ahead of No. 9 Michigan.