BERKELEY, Calif.- No. 12 Stanford dropped a hard-fought 4-3 decision to No. 9 California on Friday afternoon during its final match of the regular season.
In what was expected to be a back-and-forth battle between two of the conference's top teams, California (15-5, 9-1 Pac-12) pulled out its first win over Stanford (16-4, 8-2 Pac-12) in eight attempts, a streak that dated back to 2009 and included a 6-1 home victory for the Cardinal back on March 2.
Both teams are expected to serve as likely host sites for NCAA Tournament first and second round competition, although the Golden Bears will finish as the Pac-12's second-place team. The Cardinal tied UCLA for third, but owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bruins.
For the second time this year, Stanford won the doubles point but lost the match. After splitting the first two contests, the Cardinal's duo of Stacey Tan and Ellen Tsay grinded out a decisive 9-7 victory on court two for a 1-0 lead.
California got on the board when Lynn Chi bested Tan 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 4 spot, evening the match at 1-1.
In a battle of top-20 players at the top of the lineup, 20th-ranked Nicole Gibbs cruised past seventh-ranked Annet Schutting 6-2, 6-2. Gibbs, who notched her 100th career victory, defeated Schutting by the same score when the teams hooked up last month.
Trailing 2-1, the Golden Bears tied the match again following Zsofi Susanyi's 6-4, 6-2 victory over Krista Hardebeck at the No. 3 position. Prior to today, Hardebeck had been undefeated in five matches against Cal players this year, including four in a row to capture the ITA Northwest Regional Championships title back in October.
Tayler Davis pushed California one step closer, taking down Ellen Tsay 7-6 (1), 6-4 on court five.
Leading 3-2, the Golden Bears were in position to secure the match with two contests remaining and having taken the first sets in both.
Annie Goransson provided the clincher, holding off Natalie Dillon 6-2, 7-5 next door on court six.
Kristie Ahn accounted for Stanford's third point, outlasting Klara Fabikova 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 at No. 2. Playing her first three-setter since mid-January, Ahn turned away a late charge from Fabikova to win her team-leading sixth consecutive match.
Friday's match was televised by the Pac-12 Network, joining yesterday's UCLA-USC contest as the only women's matches to be shown this year.
Stanford shifts to individual competition next week, competing at the Pac-12 Championships in Ojai, Calif.
No. 9 California 4, No. 12 Stanford 3
1) No. 7 Ahn/Gibbs (STAN) d. No. 26 Chi/Schutting (CAL) 8-4
2) No. 47 Tan/Tsay (STAN) d. No. 41 Fabikova/Susanyi (CAL) 9-7
3) Kelly Chui/Davis (CAL) d. Dillon/Hardebeck (STAN) 8-4
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2
1) No. 20 Nicole Gibbs (STAN) d. No. 7 Annet Schutting (CAL) 6-2, 6-2
2) No. 34 Kristie Ahn (STAN) d. No. 55 Klara Fabikova (CAL) 4-6, 6-0, 7-5
3) No. 5 Zsofi Susanyi (CAL) d. No. 17 Krista Hardebeck (STAN) 6-4, 6-2
4) No. 61 Lynn Chi (CAL) d. No. 94 Stacey Tan (STAN) 6-1, 6-3
5) Tayler Davis (CAL) d. No. 76 Ellen Tsay (STAN) 7-6 (1), 6-4
6) Annie Goransson (CAL) d. Natalie Dillon (STAN) 6-2, 7-5
Order of Finish: 4, 1, 3, 5, 6, 2