Here’s a rundown of all the athletic excitement from last week.
It was a week of both championship success and defeat in Week 14. Despite women’s tennis winning their first-ever PacWest title and baseball winning the PacWest Southern California Pod Championship, men’s tennis and acro and tumbling fell just short of their championship pursuits. Here’s a brief recap of every game that APU played during their fourteenth week of play.
April 22 — W, 4-1 vs Metro State
Beginning play in the PacWest Conference Tournament, the No. 6 ranked Cougars began tournament play smoothly with a comfortable victory over Metro State. Much like they’ve done all season, the Cougars began the match with a quick 1-0 lead after the Cougars swept their way through the doubles portion. In the singles, true freshman Madison Kane was the first Cougar to earn a point for the second consecutive game. Jacky Wagner followed as the second Cougar to finish with a point. She finished the game with a 6-0, 6-2 finish. Although the Roadrunners secured a point in the No. 4 spot, ending the potential of a clean sweep, Anna Savchenko clinched a trip to the semifinals with her 6-0, 6-4 finish in the No. 2 spot.
April 23 — W, 4-0 vs Biola
APU didn’t wait very long to earn that much-desired four-match sweep because they beat Biola by a 4-0 margin the following day. Advancing their record against the Eagles this season to 2-0, the victory for the Cougars sent them to the finals matchup of the tournament for the first time in program history. Once again, the duo of Courtney Page and Kane earned the first victory for the Cougars in the doubles portion, with Carolyn Brooner and Wagner providing the second win, giving APU the early 1-0 advantage. Thirty minutes later, Wagner gave the Cougars a 2-0 lead after cruising through her singles matchup with a sensational 6-0, 6-0 victory. Kane continued her point-streak, giving APU their third point. Again, Savchenko provided the dagger for APU as the All-PacWest Second Team selection gave APU the fourth and decisive point.
April 24 — W, 4-3 vs Hawai’i Pacific
With the team’s highly-anticipated rematch against Hawai’i Pacific in store for the final matchup, the Cougars were certain that their best efforts would be needed in order to escape with the conference championship. That need for prominence was quickly tested in the doubles portion, as a win in the No. 2 spot gave Page and Kane the clinching win in the No. 3 spot — their 13th straight doubles victory.
Kane once again continued her brilliant tournament play, and she was the first Cougar to get on the board with her 6-1, 6-0 victory. However, a victory in the No. 2 spot gave the Sharks their first point of the match. Brooner’s No. 4 win brought APU within one point of the title when suddenly the Sharks were able to secure points in the No. 1 and 6 matchups. With a 3-3 tie, it was all laid on the shoulders of Wagner in the No. 3 spot. The match needed a third set to reach a finish. Wagner proved victorious, as her 6-1 finish in the third set gave APU the win and the program’s first-ever PacWest title.
April 22 — W, 4-0 vs Colorado Mesa
Men’s tennis began their tournament play with an impressive four-point sweep against eighth-seeded Colorado Mesa. Entering the bracket as the No. 1 seed, APU began the game with a 1-0 lead after securing the doubles point for the third match in a row. From there, senior Jakob Schnaitter earned the second point after conquering his No. 1 opponent by a 6-1, 6-2 tally. Sam Sippel and Ian Lee were the remaining two Cougars to earn a point, and they collectively overcame their opponents by a set record of 24-12 to provide APU with an impressive sweep to begin their quest towards the PacWest Championship.
April 23 — W, 4-1 vs Concordia Irvine
In what was the team’s third matchup against Concordia Irvine this season, the Cougars continued their brilliance against the Eagles as their 2021 record advanced to 3-0 against the 14th-ranked DII program. In what was another doubles point win, highlighted by Leyton Bohren and Schnaitter’s 15th doubles win this season, APU entered the singles portion with an advantage. Ryan Nuno started things off for the Cougars, as his 6-4, 6-0 victory brought the Cougars to within two points of the semifinal win. APU would earn another point with Schnaitter’s No. 1 victory, yet CUI would respond in the No. 5 spot with their first point of the match. Nevertheless, Cole Rassner clinched things for APU through his 6-3, 6-1 finish at No. 6 which sent the Cougars to the final. Their first time reaching the final since 2018 — which was the season they were announced PacWest champions — Saturday’s contest would be their sixth finals appearance in program history.
April 24 — L, 4-3 vs Hawai’i Hilo
A rematch from the 2019 semifinal in which the Vulcans conquered the Cougars, APU looked for redemption. They had already beaten Hawai’i Hilo previously in early March. However, the men’s side was incapable of mimicking what the women’s team had done that same morning, as APU dropped to UH Hilo in the championship match by a single point. Contradicting the final score, the Cougars earned an early 1-0 lead after sweeping their way through the doubles portion.
Nuno continued his strong campaign just moments after because his singles win gave the Cougars a 2-0 advantage. However, following a victory in the No. 1 slot, the Vulcans would take control of the game. With the contest tied 2-2, a straight-set victory at No. 5 gave UH Hilo a 3-2 edge. In what ended up being a match-saving effort, Rassner’s 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 win at No. 6 brought the contest even yet again. With the No. 5 match proving to be the decisive point, Bohren fell just short in 7-6 (7-2), 7-5, 7-5 affair, giving the Vulcans their first PacWest Championship in program history.
Acro and Tumbling
April 22 — W, 273.165-260.400 vs Hawai’i Pacific
In the Cougars’ first meet of the NCATA National Championship bracket, APU faced a familiar foe in PacWest rival Hawai’i Pacific. Yet, the familiarity of the matchup didn’t affect the Cougars’ play, as they earned their first win of the tournament in impressive fashion. The top-seeded Cougars won all four heats of the compulsory event, including a season-best 9.925 in the five-element heat. In the second half, it was another sweep for APU in the toss event, and the Cougars ultimately won 18 of the 20 total heats. The supremacy throughout ultimately led to a 13-point victory, which secured APU’s second trip to the national championship final in program history.
April 23 — L, 279.790-276.465 vs Baylor
Facing off against the defending NCATA champions in the Bears, the Cougars entered what would be their final meet of the season with an incredible chip on their shoulders. With a perfect record and a No. 1 rank for the first time in program history, APU was looking for their first national championship ever. In what ended up being the tightest matchup of the season for the Cougars, Baylor carried a 1.15-point lead heading into the second half. APU won the first two heats of the toss event, yet Baylor ended up winning the event by a slight 0.3 difference.
Despite some fantastic individual performances in the tumbling event and their best effort of the season in the team heat, Baylor was able to match every effort thrown their way and pulled off the victory with their 1.5-point edge in the event. Baylor’s victory gave the program their sixth consecutive national championship, ending the Cougars’ memorable season one victory short of the ultimate prize. However, considering the circumstances the team faced throughout 2021, it will always be a season to remember.
April 23 — W, 6-3 vs Point Loma
With a chance to win the PacWest Southern California Pod Championship in Game 1 of this weekend’s series against the Sea Lions, motivation was high for the Cougars. That ambition resulted in runs early on in the game, as a pair of RBI singles gave APU an early 2-0 lead. However, the Sea Lions would go on a 3-0 run of their own to take the narrow one-run advantage. That lead would carry into the top of the eighth until a two-run shot by Osvaldo Tovalin added to the Cougars’ lead. Two batters later, APU would add another run to their lead with a Griffen Herrera solo shot. In the top of the ninth, they would essentially end any hopes of a comeback with yet another home run, this time off the bat of Tido Robles. The three-run victory secured the pod championship, yet work still needed to be done with three games remaining in the series.
April 23 — L, 4-3 vs Point Loma
Early on in Game 2, the Cougars appeared to maintain their momentum from the previous matchup. With an early 3-0 lead, highlighted by yet another Tovalin home run in the third — his 11th of the year — the starting pitcher Cory Dawson struggled to maintain PLNU’s batters. In the bottom of the third, the Sea Lions scored two runs to make it a one-run deficit, which they would respond to in the fifth with an RBI single. With Dawson still on the mound, APU was incapable of giving their starter run support. With the game tied heading into the seventh and final inning, Dawson remained on the bump. Facing Easton Waterman to start the inning, the catcher barreled Dawson’s 3-2 fastball over the left-field wall to secure the walk-off victory for the Sea Lions, their ninth win of the 2021 campaign.
April 24 — W, 14-6 vs Point Loma
Returning home for the final two games of the series, APU responded to their most recent defeat with an incredible offensive performance. No one was as impressive as second baseman Brett Soria who had his best outing of the season. The redshirt sophomore finished the game 4-for-5 from the plate and earned a season-high total of seven RBIs. Casey Dykstra also had a solid outing, hitting 2-for-4 from the plate and scoring two runs, along with forcing a walk. On the mound, freshman Korey Shepard shined as his four innings of work from the pen gave him his second victory of the season.
April 24 — W, 9-5 vs Point Loma
While the final game proved to be a tighter affair than the previous matchup, the Cougars once again showed the strength of their bats in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader. That offensive prowess was on full display early in the game. APU scored five runs in the bottom of the second. A solo shot from Dykstra in the third gave the Cougars an intimidating 6-0 lead heading into the fourth. The Sea Lions did all they could to escape from that hole, and they scored four runs of their own in the top of the fourth. However, APU’s offense would maintain a steady scoring pace throughout the rest of the seven-inning contest, as the Cougars scored one run in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning. David Wylie was called from the pen to close the game for APU, which he would eventually do, earning his first save of the season.
April 20 — L, 9-1 vs Concordia Irvine
In their only doubleheader of last week, the Cougars dropped their first game against the Eagles in frustrating fashion. Despite opening the scoring in the top of the third inning, thanks to a Dani Burghardt single bringing in Erika Hanson, the Eagles responded with a six-run bottom of the third. Throughout that run, CUI secured five hits without the Cougars giving up a single error, meaning those six tallies were all earned runs. The Cougars were unable to respond following that stretch, as three more runs from Concordia ended the game due to the mercy rule.
April 20 — W, 3-0 vs Concordia Irvine
APU responded in Game 2, mainly because of the impressive pitching performance from Aly Montesino. In what was a pitching duel from the start, the game ended up reaching double digits after both Montesino and CUI starting pitcher Kelsea Sweeney carried shutouts following the seventh inning. Heading into the eighth, the Cougars found a rare opportunity to bring runs home with runners at first and second base. With Montesino at the plate, she drove a ball past the left-center field wall, giving the Cougars a 3-0 lead. After giving herself her own run support, Montesino was sent out to the circle yet again where she would shut out the side in order to secure the victory — her eighth of the season.
April 22 — L, 3-2 vs Biola
In what was the program’s final game of the season, the Cougars were unable to capitalize on a 2-1 lead after the Eagles took the final two sets of the contest and escaped the Felix Event Center with their sixth win of the season. A dominant 25-14 second set victory was not enough to push the Cougars to their first win against Biola, as the Eagles were able to finish the game with a 15-11 win in the fifth and decisive set. Although Annaka Jorgenson finished her brilliant 2021 campaign with a 16-kill performance, the night will be remembered for the seniors who were spotlighted before the match. Emma Svagdis and Amy Hinnant were the two seniors who played their final game with the program because both finished the game with double-digit kills as well.
Track and Field
April 24 — Results of Olympic Training Center High Performance Meet #2
Only one Cougar was showcased for track and field this week, as Elle Alexander set a new personal record in Saturday’s meet in Chula Vista, Calif. In what ended up being a provisional performance in the discus, Alexander finished with a mark of 53.56 meters. Holding a previous career-mark of 51.89m, the redshirt senior entered the day as the fourth-best discus athlete in the nation. However, her finish on Saturday excelled her to a third rank in the event. She also participated in the hammer event, and it was much of the same as she once again reached a provisional distance. She threw a 54.19m finish, which was just a few inches short of her career-best 54.25m mark that she hit earlier this season.