SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Faced with a three-match road to the finals of this year's West Coast Conference Championships, the Saint Mary's women's tennis team knew exactly what it needed to do in order to be one of the last two teams standing.
All the Gaels had to do was be themselves.
That approach has worked flawlessly so far and Friday, No. 3 seed Saint Mary's punched its ticket to the championship round with a 4-0 win over No. 2 BYU at Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego.
With the win, Saint Mary's (15-7) sets up a rematch that has likely been in its crosshairs for a few weeks. The Gaels will face No. 1 Pepperdine (17-4) at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday in not only a rematch of the teams' meeting from two weeks ago but also a return engagement from last year's WCC final that the Waves' won 4-0.
To get a chance at competing for the WCC title, Saint Mary''s first had to go through a team in BYU that won the regular season matchup between the Gaels and Cougars 5-2 in Provo. That result aside, Saint Mary's carried with it the momentum of two tournament wins already under its belt while BYU played its first match after a double-bye.
The Gaels started with a third straight strong doubles performance, and Danielle Flores and Jade Frampton got the ball rolling with an 8-2 win at No. 2. Jamie Pawid and Catherine Leduc went on to clinch the first point with an 8-2 win at No. 3, and Jenny Jullien and Parminder Kaur weren't far behind at No. 1, leading their match 7-6 when play was stopped.
In singles, the Gaels looked to the top of their lineup to keep the good times going. No. 9-ranked Jullien continued her historic season, beating Mayci Jones 6-1, 6-3 at No. 1 to put Saint Mary's up 2-0. The two-time WCC Player of the Year improved to 18-2 in spring competition with the victory.
Next to finish was perhaps the player on the biggest roll for Saint Mary's right now. Kaur pushed the score to 3-0 in favor of SMC with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Desiree Tran at No. 6. The freshman has now won five in a row and nine of her last 10.
Needing one more point to clinch a third straight shutout victory at this year's tournament, Saint Mary's turned to the hometown girl for the final word. Flores, a San Diego native, pulled out a tough 7-5 win in the first set against Nicolette Tran and then finished off the win with a 6-4 win in the second to send the Gaels to their second straight tournament final.
On Saturday, the Gaels will face a Pepperdine team that defeated Santa Clara 4-0 on Friday to advance. When the two met two weeks ago in Malibu, Pepperdine turned a close win in doubles and good singles play throughout the lineup into a 4-0 win. The No. 26-ranked Waves and No. 44 Saint Mary's are the top-ranked teams in the WCC according to the latest ITA rankings.