The top-seeded UNLV women’s tennis team won a regular-season and league tournament title in the same season for the first time, blanking host San Diego State 4-0 in the Mountain West Championship final Saturday.
Aiwen Zhu and En-Pei Huang each won in singles and teamed for a doubles victory for the Rebels (17-6), who won their eighth straight match, including seven via shutout, to earn their league-record sixth Mountain West Championship title and an automatic NCAA Championship bid.
Third-seeded San Diego State finished at 15-10.
Zhu beat Shakhnoza Khatamova 6-3, 6-2 at No. 1 singles to avenge her lone league loss this season. Huang won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 singles, and Zhu and Huang won 6-3 at No. 1 doubles.
Jovana Kenic won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 5 singles, and Connie Li and Samantha Li teamed for a 6-3 victory at No. 2 doubles.
Zhu improved to 28-7 as a senior, 42-7 at No. 1 singles in dual matches over her career and 101-31 overall. Her doubles win moved her to 25-8 this season and gave her 90 doubles victories, tying her for second in UNLV history with Anna Maskaljun (2008-11).
Kenic ended her career against Mountain West opponents in dual matches at 12-1, and Huang will return next season with a 15-1 mark against league opponents.
The Rebels will head to the NCAA Championship for the 13th time and first since 2016. They will learn who and where they will play in the first round during Tuesday’s selection show.
At Tucson, Ariz., junior Justin Kim shot the best score in the Mountain West Championship’s second round, a record-tying 8-under-par 64, which left him at 7-under 137 and tied for third, two strokes behind the leader, heading into the final round.
The defending champion Rebels shot a round-best 14-under 274 and climbed to second at 20-under 556, two shots behind Colorado State, in the 11-team event.
Kim, whose bogey-free round included two eagles and four birdies, moved up 31 spots in the standings. His 64 tied the Mountain West Championship record held by four others, most recently by UNLV’s Derek Ernst in 2011.
New Mexico senior Sean Carlon was alone atop the leaderboard in the 55-player event at 9-under 135, with sophomore teammate Galven Green one stroke back.
The Lobos were third in the team standings at 19-under 557, one stroke behind the Rebels, followed by San Diego State at 561 and Fresno State at 563.
For the Rebels, sophomore Jack Trent and senior Harry Hall were tied for 15th at 4-under 140, and freshman David Rauch and sophomore J.J. Gresco were tied for 22nd at 2-under 142.
At Wilson Stadium, Edarian Williams hit a tying two-run single in the third inning, and Bryson Stott hit a go-ahead home run in the Rebels’ three-run fifth, backing Ryan Hare, who pitched into the ninth, as UNLV held on to beat San Diego State 5-4.
Hare (7-2) was relieved by Jackson Cofer after walking one batter in the ninth. Cofer allowed a two-run single to Matt Rudick before securing his 10th save of the season.
Hare was charged with three runs on seven hits and three walks, and he struck out two. Cofer allowed one run on one hit and one walk.
Stott finished 2-for-4 and was the lone player with multiple hits for the Rebels (24-20, 11-12 Mountain West), who halted their three-game skid and a four-game win streak by the Aztecs (26-18, 11-8).
Rudick and Angelo Armenta each went 2-for-4 for San Diego State, which matched UNLV’s eight hits.
All of the Rebels’ hits and runs came off Aztecs starter Justin Goossen-Brown (5-3), who struck out four and walked two over 6 1/3 innings. Reliever Christian Winston blanked UNLV on one walk and struck out two over the final 1 2/3 innings.
At Eller Media Stadium, Justine Federe went 3-for-4 with a go-ahead home run, and Denise Armendariz and Lauren Tycksen drove in two runs each to lead the Rebels to a 6-4 victory over California Baptist, capping a three-game nonconference series sweep.
Federe put UNLV (31-13) ahead to stay at 3-2 with a solo shot in the third inning, and she also doubled, stole a base and scored twice.
Tycksen hit a two-run triple in the Rebels’ three-run fourth and finished 2-for-4, scoring twice. Armendariz went 3-for-3 with a two-run single in the first.
Anise Avalos went 3-for-5 with a two-run single in the first and an RBI single in the sixth for the Lancers (21-30), who held a 12-10 edge in hits.
Makenna Stram went 3-for-4 and scored twice, and Molly Kolander was 2-for-4 for Cal Baptist, which had no extra-base hits.
UNLV freshman Jenny Bressler (20-5) pitched a complete game, allowing four runs, three earned, on 12 hits and two walks. She struck out seven.
Lancers starter Kellye Springstead (18-16) lasted 3 1/3 innings, permitting six runs, five earned, on seven hits and two walks, with two strikeouts.
Reina Bondi went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt for the Rebels.
TRACK AND FIELD
At Irvine, Calif., Kaysha Love placed first in the 200-meter dash and was part of two winning relays, helping the Rebels register six victories and 16 top-eight finishes among collegiate competitors Saturday on the final day of the Steve Scott Invitational.
Love won the 200 in 23.66 seconds, teamed with Jada Hicks, Jasmyne Graham and Emerald Bowens to win the 400 relay in 45.27 seconds and teamed with Amari Prude, Avi’Tal Wilson-Perteete and Gizelle Reid to win the 1,600 relay in 3 minutes, 40.31 seconds.
Hicks, Taylor Pegram and Jaela Williams placed 1-2-3 among collegiate competitors in the 100 hurdles in 13.48 seconds, 13.50 seconds and 14.19 seconds.
Graham placed first among collegians in the 400 hurdles in 1:01.28.
Mackenna Howard and Cassidy Osborne-Butler were first and second among collegians in the shot put at 51 feet, 2.25 inches and 49 feet, 7 inches.
Jonon Young was second in the triple jump with a personal-best 40 feet, 7 inches, and Jartierra Grissom was fourth in the high jump with a 5-foot, 7-inch clearance.
Emma Wahlenmaier was fifth among collegians in the 800 in a personal-best 2:13.75.