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In the end, the Nicolet Sweet 16 Tournament, which featured some of the state's best teams, came down to a battle of No. 1 versus No. 2.

Marquette and host Nicolet each advanced through to the finals as expected, but the second-ranked Knights avenged an earlier season loss to the two-time defending state champion and top-ranked Hilltoppers with a 5-2 victory.

The Sweet 16 championship capped another stellar week for Nicolet, as the Knights went 6-0, including a win over fifth-ranked Homestead, to improve to 18-1.

By defeating Homestead on May 2, Nicolet sits in the driver's seat for the North Shore Conference dual meet title, having already downed the other serious league contender in Whitefish Bay.

The Knights swept the singles flights against the Highlanders, receiving wins from Jaden Aranda, Sunil Sabnis, Julian Lowe and Ben Chester. Homestead won at the top two doubles flights, but Harry Rosmann and Eytan Robinson claimed a victory at No. 3 doubles for the Knights.

Nicolet then cruised to a 7-0 win over Milwaukee Lutheran/Lake Country Lutheran on May 4 to stay unbeaten in North Shore dual meets.

To reach the Sweet 16 final, the Knights had to defeat two state-ranked opponents in Whitefish Bay and Neenah, as well as Oshkosh North.

Nicolet handled the ninth-ranked Blue Dukes, 7-0, for the second time this season and defeated Oshkosh North by the same score. The same lineup swept through both opponents, as Aranda, Sabnis, Lowe and Chester won singles matches and Eli Winter and Jack Steinberger, Ridley Aranda and Ari Robinson and Rosmann and Eytan Robinson earned doubles victories.

Third-ranked Neenah presented a challenge, but the Knights relied on their doubles flights to earn a 4-3 win. Chester won at No. 4 singles, and Jaden Aranda and Steinberger, Ridley Aranda and Ari Robinson and Eytan Robinson and Rosmann pulled out wins to take the dual.

Marquette won the first meeting between the top two ranked teams in the state, 5-2, on April 22.

Nicolet rode its doubles flights in the rematch, with Jaden Aranda and Steinberger winning at No. 1, Ridley Aranda and Eli Winter earning a victory at No. 2 and Eytan Robinson and Ari Robinson teaming to win at No. 3. Chester pulled out a three-set win at No. 3 singles and Rosmann won at No. 4 singles.

There will be a rubber match of sorts when Nicolet and Marquette meet again in the sectional, where the Knights will try to reach the team state tournament for the first time since 2006.

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