The University of California (Pennsylvania) is 14-2 this season and is ranked 12th in the country. Still, though, Northeastern State coach Amanda Stone doesn’t hate her team’s chances of advancing in the NCAA tournament.
“I’m really happy about the draw that we got. I’m pretty optimistic,” said Stone, whose RiverHawks (23-5) will take on the Vulcans at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
“They’re good, but we’ve done as much scouting as possible. I feel good about the matchups, and we’re playing pretty good right now.”
To land a spot in the round of 16, NSU beat Nebraska-Kearney (5-1) and Augustana College (5-3) during regional play. Now the RiverHawks will play a Cal team that has won 12 straight matches since losing to West Virginia on Feb. 7.
“It’s kind of like we matchup well on paper,” Stone said. “It’s just a matter of who’s ready to play and who’s playing well.”
Asked where she thought she might have an advantage, Stone pointed to a couple of showdowns.
“Kris (Savchenkov) is ranked three spots higher than they’re No. 1 singles player,” Stone said. “And we might have an advantage at No. 2 doubles. But doubles are pretty wide open, and at this point, anyone is good and anyone can beat anyone.”
Savchenkov is 18-6 in No. 1 singles play this season for the RiverHawks, who also have Savchenkov at No. 2 doubles with Barbora Jirickova. NSU’s No. 2 doubles duo is 17-0 this campaign.
As for her pep talk to her club prior to playing in the Sunshine State, Stone told them that they’re still considered “outsiders.”
“We knew we would make it again [to the NCAA tournament], but to everyone else we’re kind of outsiders,” she said. “We’re kind of on the outside, but we can come back next year and kick the door down.”
In 2013, NSU lost to BYU-Hawaii, 5-0, in the round of 16. If the RiverHawks advance to the Elite Eight, they could end up facing BYU-Hawaii again on Thursday at 8 a.m. (Central time).