Top-seeded Tarleton swept its way past No. 8-seed Arkansas-Fort Smith (25-16, 25-23, 25-14) to advance to the NCAA South Central Regional Semifinals for the third time in program history.
In a season full of records, the TexAnns established a new school record for wins in a season, moving to 30-4 on the year.
The TexAnns advance to play either 4-seed Colorado Mines or 5-seed Metro State on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Wisdom Gym.
Tarleton controlled the game on both sides on the net, hitting .230 for the match and holding Arkansas-Fort Smith to a .104 hitting percentage. Amber Strange and Adriana Darthuy posted a match-leading 11 kills to lead the offense, while Adrianna Knutson controlled the defense with a game-high 26 digs.
The TexAnns never trailed in the opening set as they built a 6-1 right out of the gate behind three kills from freshman Lauren Kersey. The Lions got to within two at 15-13, but that was as close as the Heartland Conference Tournament winner would get. Sofia Tonga and Tatyana Tuialii-Umi scored three straight points on kills and started a stretch of five straight TexAnn points for a 22-14 lead en route to the opening-set win.
The second set was a little closer for the host TexAnns, as the two teams battled to six ties and seven lead changes in the set. UAFS was up 8-5 when Tarleton went on a 6-0 stretch with kills form Tonga and Darthuy. The lead would stay in Tarleton’s favor until the Lions tied the set at 19. Darthuy delivered two straight kills for a 21-19 advantage, but the Lions answered back with two straight of their own to even the score. Darthuy and Tuialii-Umi took the lead right back with kills and Hannah McManus answered defensively with a block to give Tarleton a 24-21 advantage. Darthuy’s kill that split a pair of Lion defenders gave the TexAnns a 2-0 lead in the match.
Tarleton used a pair of 6-1 runs – one to open the third set and the other midway through the set – to take a commanding 17-8 lead. Tarleton took five of the final six points on kills from Tuialii-Umi, McManus and Kersey to win the match and advance in the NCAA Tournament.
Blanca Izquierdo and Kayla Brannon paced the offense with 22 and 16 assists, respectively. Michaela Rodriguez joined Knutson with double-digit digs, finishing with 13.
For more information on Tarleton Volleyball and the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament, visit TarletonSports.com.