By Bill Cross
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
A night after overpowering Elwood in the sectional opener, the Pendleton Heights Arabians backed it up with another strong performance to take out Anderson 4-1 and advance to the sectional finals today at the Highland Middle School courts.
The Arabians started quickly with Lauren Robertson earning Pendleton Heights’ first point at No. 3 singles with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Laura Lawrence.
No. 1 Carly Wilson earned the second win of the afternoon with a dominating 6-1, 6-0 victory over Anderson’s Ashley Heruth.
Pendleton Heights wrapped up the victory with a win by the No. 1 doubles team of Audrey and Kayleigh Corn, who scored a 6-1, 6-2 decision over Charlotte Condon and Aquirsa Skipper.
The final two points would be well earned as the No. 2 doubles match came down to a third-set tiebreaker and the No. 2 singles match
was a long battle of back and forth between Pendleton Heights’ Emma McCardwell and Anderson’s Alexa Morris.
After losing the first set 6-2 to Anderson’s Alexa Landaker and Aspen Christian, the Arabians duo of Haley Augsburger and Lina Larsson stormed back to win the second set 6-2. The 10-point tiebreaker went to 28 points before the Indians scored their first win of the night with a 15-13 edge to take the tiebreaker and the match.
On court No. 2, McCardwell and Morris were still battling it out.
McCardwell led 4-3 in the first set and had a shot to break Morris’ serve. After forcing the fourth deuce of the game, McCardwell won the next point and hit a nice cross court shot that eluded Morris for a 5-3 lead.
Morris came right back to break McCardwell, but McCardwell returned the favor in the 10th game to take the set 6-4.
In the second set, Morris got out to a 2-1 lead, but McCardwell won the next four games to go up 5-2. Morris stayed alive with a win in the eighth game, but McCardwell finished it in the ninth to take the match 6-4, 6-3.
“We had some really good points, she (Morris) just hit back everything,” McCardwell said. “It was really close, the score does not reflect how close it was. I just tried to hit my shots, but she got a lot of them back so I had to stay patient.”
“Lex is just a battler,” Anderson coach Jim Hostetler said of his senior. “She’s just got that fight of a tiger. She just doesn’t give up anything. Emma was just too strong for her.”
Hostetler praised his seniors as they finished a tough campaign and fought to the finish.
“They (Pendleton) played well,” Hostetler said. “They are just a little bit stronger than we are. I can’t fault the effort my girls gave, I felt like we played probably as good as we are going to play. They gave it all. I’ve got six seniors that basically left it on the court. You can’t fault that at all.”
Anderson will lose Heruth, Morris, Lawrence, Condon, Landaker and Christian to graduation.
Pendleton Heights coach Royce Hammel preached patience to his Arabians, and the strategy worked.
“I told them ‘one point at a time,’” Hammel said. “We’ve played them before, but you still have to prove it again.”
Pendleton Heights moves on to play defending champion Alexandria in the finals today. The Arabians won a hard-fought 3-2 match in the county tournament semifinals against Alexandria last month.