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Pacific Lutheran Goes to Eastern Washington for Two Matches

Mitch Yannello
Mitch Yannello

ON THE ROAD: Eastern Washington - literally - is the destination for the Pacific Lutheran men's tennis team, which plays a pair of matches during the weekend. The Lutes face Eastern Washington, a NCAA Division I program, at 3 p.m. Friday in Cheney, and then head over to Spokane for a Saturday morning contest versus Whitworth. The Lutes and Pirates get their Northwest Conference match underway at 10:30 a.m.

ON THE ROAD - AGAIN: The matches against EWU and Whitworth are the second and third of nine straight on the road for the Lutes. They don't play at home until April 5 when they host Puget Sound at Sprinker Tennis Center.

ABOUT THE OPPONENTS: Eastern Washington owns a 3-9 overall record and will be in the midst of a four straight home matches when the Lutes roll into Cheney on Friday. The match is slated to be played at the Jim Thorpe Fieldhouse. Whitworth has a 3-7 overall record and, at 3-2, holds down fourth place in the Northwest Conference. The five non-conference losses have all been against non-Division III opponents. The Pirates have lost twice to NCAA Division II Lewis-Clark State in addition to losses to Division I foes Eastern Washington, Idaho and Gonzaga.

GOOD START FOR THE LUTES: Pacific Lutheran is off to a very solid 5-1 start to the season. All of those matches have come against Northwest Conference foes, and with that record the Lutes are currently in third place in the NWC. Their one loss came at George Fox, which is second in the conference at 6-1. Both teams trail 7-0 Whitman.

LUTE NOTES: Taylor Dickey, currently playing No. 5 singles, is the lone senior on the Pacific Lutheran team. Dickey, who has a 4-2 record while playing No. 4 or No. 5 this season, is one of five PLU players with a winning record. Joining him on that list are frosh Brandon Bulaclac (3-1), sophomore Luke Olson (4-2), frosh Jake Yannello (2-0), and frosh Mitch Yannello (4-2). Jake Yannello played No. 6 in the first two matches before injuring his ankle. Bulaclac stepped right in and has helped solidify the team in terms of depth. PLU is 22-14 overall in singles and 11-7 in singles, including an solid 4-2 from Jason Bower and Dickey. That duo has moved into the No. 1 spot after playing No. 2 for the first four matches.

PLU 9, PUGET SOUND 0: Pacific Lutheran whitewashed the Puget Sound Loggers, 9-0, at the UPS Tennis Pavilion last Wednesday. The win was the 42nd in a row for the Lutes over the Loggers dating back to the 1992 season. Two of the three doubles matches were close. Jason Bower and Taylor Dickey held off Graham Baker and Michael Cutter 9-7 at first doubles, and Luke Olson and Sam Angel beat Jake Peterson and Daniel Deuel 8-6 at second doubles. Third doubles went to the Lutes duo of Brandon Bulaclac and Mitch Yannello, 8-4, over John Stevens and Abe Noyes. Pacific Lutheran won all six of the singles matches in straight sets. Bower beat Cutter at first singles, 6-4, 7-6, Olson took down Baker at second singles 6-4, 6-0, and Angel topped Deuel at third singles 6-3, 7-6. At fourth singles it was Yannello over Noyes 6-2, 6-4, Dickey over Peterson 6-2, 6-2, and at sixth singles Bulaclac topped Stevens 6-4, 7-5. "It's always fun playing our crosstown rival UPS," PLU head coach Rocky Poulin said. "We came out and set the tone sweeping the doubles.  We felt like we had some good momentum going into the singles were able to take advantage of that momentum and close out the match."

PLU 6, LEWIS & CLARK 3: Pacific Lutheran got straight-set victories in the final three singles matches last Saturday afternoon on the way to a 6-3 conference victory over the visiting Lewis & Clark Pioneers in Sprinker Tennis Center. "Lewis & Clark is a young team similar to us, but we just ended up having more depth than them," PLU head coach Rocky Poulin said. PLU singles winners included Jason Bower, Mitch Yannello, Taylor Dickey and Brandon Bulaclac. The doubles matches went to PLU by a 2-1 score. Sam Angel and Luke Olson won at second doubles and Yannello and Bulaclac triumphed at third doubles.

- PLU -