By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – The second-seeded Bulls gave top-seeded Notre Dame a battle but couldn’t find a way to seize the Big East trophy on Sunday afternoon.
Kayla Rizzolo tied things up at 1 with a singles win before the No. 21 Irish held off No. 57 USF, 4-1, in the Bulls' third consecutive trip to the conference title match.
“It’s the last year of the Big East and we wanted to win it so badly. It just didn’t go how we wanted it to and we have to get better,” head coach Agustin Moreno said.
Notre Dame took the doubles point before Rizzolo got the Bulls back to even ground with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Katherine White.
Two matches went unfinished and Paula Montoya took her opponent to a third set while Notre Dame sealed the victory when tournament MVP Britney Sander got past Katie Vasenina, 7-6, 7-5.
“We had our opportunities on a couple of courts and it looked like momentum was changing to our side, but we just didn’t make the plays,” Moreno said. “I knew it was going to come down to this situation and whoever holds on better was going to win.”
USF went 9-2 in Big East play this season and made it to the conference championship for the fifth time under Moreno. The Bulls’ lone Big East title win came in 2007.
No. 1 seed Notre Dame 4, No. 2 seed USF 1
Match W21 – BIG EAST Championship Title Match
April 21, 2013
Varsity Courts, Tampa, Fla. – 9 a.m.
1. Kellner/McGaffigan (ND) did not finish Alonso-Martinez/Vasenina (USF)
2. Sabacinski/Sanders (ND) def. Rizzolo/Mills (USF) 8-5 *
3. Gleason/White (ND) did not finish vs. Francassi/Montoya (USF) 8-4
1. Sanders (ND) def. E. Vasenina (USF) 7-6, 7-5 *
2. Kellner (ND) did not finish vs. L. Alonso-Martinez (USF)
3. Gleason (ND) def. Fracassi (USF) 7-6, 6-3
4. McGaffigan (ND) def. Montoya (USF) 6-0, 5-7, 6-3
5. Rizzolo (USF) def. White (ND) 6-2, 6-2
6. Vrabel (ND) did not finish vs. Bonte (USF)
Order of Finish: 5, 3, 4, 1
Match Duration: 3:57
* deciding match