By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (September 8, 2016) — Hailey Roberts matched a school record she already owned and Jordyn Keamo very nearly set another school mark in her first home match.
And Tarleton State needed every bit of it to remain unbeaten in the opening match of the first Tarleton Invitational at Wisdom Gym Thursday evening.
Roberts, already a two-time All-American and reigning conference and regional player of the year, racked up 37 kills and Keamo 66 assists, tying teammate Chandler Gow (2015) and Morgan Betty (2003) for second most in a single match in school history.
The superlative efforts of the two juniors paved the way for the TexAnns in a 25-19, 19-25, 25-21, 27-29, 15-13 victory in front of a rowdy home crowd. Tarleton is 5-0 for the second straight season and the fifth time in school history, the third under 12th year head coach Mary Schindler.
The TexAnns return to action at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday against Arkansas-Monticello and Colorado Mesa, then complete their invitational slate against Colorado Christian at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Roberts’ record-tying kill scored match point. She landed kills for each of Tarleton’s first five points of the decisive short set, lifting the TexAnns to a 5-2 lead.The advantage swelled to 10-5 and was 13-8 before LCU made a run with five of the next six points to cut it to 14-13.
But Tarleton knew just where to turn for the winning point, and sure enough, it was Keamo setting and Roberts killing to end the marathon that was easily Tarleton’s toughest test to date. Entering the match, the TexAnns had won 12 of 13 sets and outscored opponents 329-250, or by just more than six points per set. The total score in the grueling battle with LCU was 111-107.
Roberts now owns six of the top 10 single-match kill totals in Tarleton history. She has 103 kills – 5.7 per set – on the young season. Keamo has 205 assists, an average of 11.4 per set.
Sophomore middle Hannah McManus had 13 kills and six blocks for the TexAnns, while sophomore libero Adrianna Knutson made 27 digs with Roberts adding 14, Gow 12 and Keamo 10.
When Roberts landed kill shots for the last two points of the third set and first two of the fourth, it didn’t appear a fifth would be necessary. But LCU answered the bell, using a 19-9 run to lead the fourth, 20-13. The TexAnns responded with seven straight points, and the set was tied eight times before LCU prevailed and everyone regrouped for the short set.
Tarleton scored four of the first five points of the match and cruised in the first set. LCU returned the favor in the second, scoring six of seven for a 9-4 lead and staying in front the whole way to even up the match.
Back-to-back kills by McManus broke an 18-18 tie and gave Tarleton the lead for good in the third. Four kills down the stretch by Roberts and another by McManus powered the TexAnns on to the win and a 2-1 lead.