(5) Mallory Cecil (Duke) def. (2) Julia Cohen (Miami), 6-1, 6-0
Laura Vallverdu (Miami) def. (8) Chelsey Gullickson (Georgia), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
(5) Mallory Cecil (Duke):
“I guess it’s the fourth time that I’ve played (Julia Cohen, Miami) this season. We both really know what to expect from each other now. I had beaten her the last two times that we played. I know what I need to do. I need to go out there and be patient, and I need to be aggressive. She is going to get some points and shots in on me, but for the most part, (I) was focusing on myself with her. She had that game style that she will just hang in there with you. If you get agitated or anything like that, then she will run with it. So before I went out there today, I just really focused on myself and my game, and I knew what I needed to do.
(On the difference between today’s match and when Duke faced Miami in the quarterfinals of the team championships) “It was super intense, with the whole atmosphere with the team and everything. Today, it all had to come from myself and generate from within. That gave me a lot of confidence knowing that I could take control of those points, come in and be aggressive, and that would be something that would definitely work.
(On her previous matches against Julia Cohen) “I normally struggle with her. Even when I played her in juniors, they were always really close matches. I think that throughout the season, we have really worked on me staying aggressive and coming in with those types of players. I’m not so much surprised, more just happy that I’m finally understanding and continuing my game plan throughout the whole entire match.
"The first match that I ever played against her, she beat me 7-6 in the third on my 18th birthday. I will never forget that. In that match, I went down 5-2 in the third. I got it back to 5-all just doing what I was doing here, but I think in that match I was toggling back and forth the whole time, like rallying with her from the baseline too much and not getting in, which is what I know now is what I need to do. I think that was the thing, I just didn’t really stick with my game plan the whole way through."
(On playing in the finals) "I guess that if it is (Laura) Vallverdu, I’ve never played her before. I’ve only seen her play a little because she has played Ellah (Nze) a couple of times, but I don’t really know much about her. I think that at this point right now, it’s just another player. I’m not really thinking about what school they are from, or where they played on their team or anything like that. If she is in the finals in the NCAAs, then you just got to play her."
"When I played Chelsey (Gullickson) this last week, it was the first time that we ever played. If Chelsey wins, I think it would be another really great match. It was really close when we played. I’m definitely very eager to play both of them."
"I’m definitely tired, but at this point I feel that it’s all mental for me. It’s all mental for all of us. I feel really match-tough, and I’m just using the momentum that I have right now. It’s all mental for me, and I know that it’s just one more match, so I’m leaving everything out there on that court tomorrow."
Duke Head Coach Jamie Ashworth:
"Before Mallory lost to her in Miami this year in our dual match down there, we worked a lot on swinging volleys and talking about how to take the ball out of the air. She was doing the right thing and hitting the right shots, but it’s definitely something that she has put a lot of time into, and taking advantage of short balls. Just more transition-type of stuff is something that she has really worked hard on. Against something like that, you have to be able to finish points. Like Mallory said, you’re going to get a lot of short balls, a lot of balls that float. That’s just how Julia plays. She makes you hit a winner, so you have to be able to finish points, and Mallory has worked really hard on that. It’s been good to see the progression over the last six weeks, since she played her the first time in college."
(8) Chelsey Gullickson (Georgia):
“I don’t think the rain delay had any affect on my playing, because I came out winning the 3-all game and then went up 40-love. I don’t think the rain delay had anything to do with it. I think it was me just staying focused when I was up 40-love. I think I only won one point after I won that 40-love. (Laura Vallverdu) came out strong and she had nothing to lose, so I really don’t think the rain delay had anything to do with it.
“I feel like I made a couple of errors but I think she definitely stepped up her game from that 40-love game on. She was making more balls. She was being more aggressive.
“I think I won four straight games.. I was frustrated after the first, she was frustrated after the second, and the third set was a whole new set. All the emotions that she had and I had were just put aside.
“I played her out in Los Angeles at the All-Americans and our match was the same exact way. There were a lot of momentum switches and everything. I feel like that’s just the way that our game is. She hits the ball. We are both really aggressive. I went into the match knowing there were going to be a lot of momentum switches. There’s nothing you can really do about that but just try to keep playing your game and hope it works.
“Laura fights (more than) anyone. I don’t like playing her. I like playing her because we have really good matches, but out of anyone, she doesn’t give up. She doesn’t give you one free point or anything. So, even though I won 7-5, some girls would just be like, ‘Whatever, I just lost,’ and be all mental, but I know with she’s going to come back like nothing really happened.”
Laura Vallverdu (Miami)
(On coming back from 3-4, love-40 in the third set) “I was just talking about that with my coach. I don’t really know what happened there. She just said I played better than her. I was just trying to play ball-by-ball. I was not aware of what was happening really. I told myself to be in a little bubble and just not even think about what’s happening. I was really just telling myself to keep my emotions and focus on the little yellow thing, the ball.
(On being at match point in the second set) “I had a chance to put it away at 5-4 and I didn’t. She played great that second set. She came back with huge balls. I kind of caught myself thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to be in the finals.’ I guess nerves. I knew it happened yesterday. I started thinking. Right now, I wasn’t even focusing on the score or anybody. I wasn’t even looking at my coaches. I was just like, ‘Let’s just get it done.’”