ATHENS, Ga. - The UC Santa Barbara doubles team of Palina Dubavets and Melissa Baker battled back in the second set against the No. 16 team of Joana Valle Costa and Ryann Foster of LSU on Thursday before falling 6-2, 7-5 in the first round of the NCAA Doubles Championship at the University of Georgia.
After losing the first set 6-2, Dubavets and Baker, trailed 6-5 and were down 40-15 and facing match point. The Gaucho duo fought back to deuce before falling to Valle Costa and Foster.
"I am so proud of our doubles team," said head coach Simon Thibodeau. "They fought hard and got unlucky at the end. Melissa improved so much, she is a true fighter and got nationally ranked with two different teammates. She had a great career as a Gaucho! Palina is one of our leaders and one of the best player the program has had. She will be even stronger as a senior."
The loss in the NCAA Tournament brings UCSB's season to a close. For the second straight season, the Gauchos won the Big West Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. It was the first time in more than two decades that the program advanced to consecutive postseason tournaments.
Baker, a senior, was making her first-ever appearance in the NCAA Doubles Championship. Playing with Stefani Stojic, Dubavets, a junior, made the field in 2016 and, in fact, advanced to the second round before dropping a three-set match to the No. 1 team in the nation from North Carolina. She and Stojic played together for much of the 2016-17 season as well, but her ranking with Baker climbed to No. 51 and resulted in their selection to the tournament.