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Whybrew lifts Argylls past Indians

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Argylls: Madison-Grant's Lizzy Whybrew hits a return in her three-set win over Mississinewa's Maggie Herring at No. 3 singles Friday evening in Gas City. Whybrew's win gave the Argylls a 3-2 win over the Indians.
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INDIANS: Mississinewa's Tyra Stanley returns a shot during her win at No. 2 singles against Madison-Grant Friday evening in Gas City. The Argylls defeated the Indians, 3-2.

By CHUCK LANDIS - clandis@chronicle-tribune.com

GAS CITY — Lizzy Whybrew never gave up even when the odds seemingly were stacked against her Friday evening, and as a result, the Madison-Grant girls' tennis team came back to earn their biggest victory this season.

After trailing 5-0 in the first set, Whybrew came all the way back for a three-set victory and lifted the Argylls to a 3-2 victory over Mississinewa. The win put the Argylls in a three-way tie with the Indians and Alexandria atop the Central Indiana Conference standings.

Ole Miss dropped to 10-4, 4-1 CIC and played its final conference match, while M-G, 13-6, 3-1 must beat Elwood on Monday to gain a share of the title. The Argylls defeated Elwood 5-0 earlier this season in the Madison County tournament.

Whybrew, a senior, had been part of Argylls teams that won the CIC in 2016 and '17 and applied all her experiences to rally for a 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Indians junior Maggie Herring in the No. 3 singles match. Even after her slow start, Whybrew never doubted her ability to come back.

"That was probably the hardest match I ever played," Whybrew said. "I had lost the first few (games), but in the second set I started off pretty well and got the momentum going, and it helped me win the third — and also my team supporting me."

Actually, Madison-Grant and Ole Miss players were exhorting Whybrew and Herring on every point in the third set. Whybrew went ahead 4-2 and pulled out the critical seventh game to put her in control of the match.

"That (seventh game) was long and to get that and go up 5-2 gave her some breathing room," Argylls coach Tony Pitt said. "I told Lizzy on that change over the pressure isn't on her and we could still talk on the next switch over and she'd be up 5-4. She didn't have to win it right here — even though it be nice — but we had a little bit wiggle room."

Herring won the next game to trail 5-3 and then went ahead 40-love in an attempt to stave off the loss. But Whybrew drew even and ultimately had match point three times before clinching the match with a well-placed drop shot.

"That's the advantage of having a senior who showed leadership and has been in those situations before," Pitt said. "She could have easily been the first person off the court with a loss. But she fought in that second set and put that first set get behind her, and it's a brand new match once you started that second set.

Ole Miss coach Bruce Fleming admitted it was a stunning turn of events when Herring failed to maintain her early hold on the No. 3 singles match. Fleming hoped his three singles players, who represent the biggest strength of the Indians lineup, would prevail against the Argylls.

Indians No. 1 singles Heidi Rawley did her job with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over counterpart Sadie Wilson, while Trya Stanley was in command throughout against Kasey Cleaver for a 6-0, 6-1 win at No. 2 singles.

"We were up 5-0 in the first set and won it 6-1," Fleming said, "and for some reason lost a lot of confidence even though we were up a set. We thought we would coast in and got ourselves in a jam.

"(Whybrew) did not have any quit in her at all and didn't seem to be that tired at the end," he added. "Late in the third set she still was moving well."

Madison-Grant's doubles teams had the edge in experience over Ole Miss and swept both matches. Yet, it took all of senior Brooke Butcher and junior Kayla Comer's experience at No. 1 doubles to hold off the Indians' all-freshman team of Ella Frantz and Taylor Kern, 6-3, 7-6 (4).

The Argylls' No. 2 team of Carley Bramel and Sidney Presnall dominated their match against the Indians Allysa Smith and Hallie Sullivan, 6-1, 6-0.

"There's no secret that (Mississinewa's) singles are loaded and to try to be able to sneak out one of those was going to be a chore," Pitt said. "First and foremost, we wanted to take care of business at doubles, and they have a nice No. 1 doubles team, too.

"The best part of this team is we've had different big matches that come down to a particular person," he added. "For example, Sadie at No. 1 singles against Lapel to win our tournament. Then Cleaver to win against Alexandria and Frankton which had really nice players. I guess it was Lizzy's turn to do the honors today."

Mississinewa could have claimed the CIC title all to themselves with a win, and the Indians also had to give up the league's traveling trophy — a tennis racket — to the Argylls.

"We have four teams in the conference that are decent teams, skill-wise, and playing pretty well," Fleming said. "We knew we had to beat all three of those other top teams to win the conference, but Madison-Grant is a nice team."