HIGHLAND | With the score tied 2-2, all eyes turned to what would be the winning point at No. 2 doubles.
"The pressure cranks me up," Munster's Sam Sakevicius said. "That's when we play our best."
True to her word, Sakevicius and partner Marianna Rogers broke a 3-3 tie with three straight games to win 6-3, 6-3. The point gave Times No. 1 Munster a hard-fought 3-2 Northwest Crossroads Conference win over No. 3 Highland.
"That was a great match," Mustang coach Bill Heuer said. "Both teams played really well. We came out on top today, and we'll gladly take it."
Munster (4-0, 3-0) jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind 6-0, 6-0 wins at both No. 2 and No. 3 singles.
"It was nice to get a quick lead," Heuer said. "It allowed our doubles team to focus more on their own game instead of the whole match."
But the Trojans (7-1, 1-1) roared back to tie the match. Vani Madrigal grabbed a 6-0, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles, and the tandem of Aby Madrigal and Meredith Garcia won 7-5, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles.
"We played a little nervous in the first set," Garcia said. "But we settled down and played our game in the second set. It's only the third time Aby and I have played together, and we are still settling into our roles."
Vani Madrigal credited improved footwork for her win.
"I had some footwork problems in my last match, and we put some extra work into it during practice this week," Madrigal said. "When my feet are right, my shots are a lot more consistent, and I was a lot more on my game today."
Both teams gathered around the No. 2 doubles court at the end, but the Mustangs took the drama out of it when they rattled off three straight points to seal the deal.
"We were playing well at the end," Rogers said. "The intensity level went up, and we were into it."
Arguably the best two teams in Lake County, Highland and Munster will have the chance to meet again in sectional this year. The new IHSAA format moved the Trojans into the same sectional with host Munster.