By BRAD KEITH
(November 21, 2014) — Tarleton State (24-7) expected tough competition in its first ever NCAA volleyball regional. What nobody expected was a 1-2-3 sweep of No. 20 Metropolitan State College (Colo.) (23-7).
The TexAnns built early leads and won the opening two sets 25-22 and 25-20 before scoring the final three points in an epic 32-30 third set victory in the opening round of the South Central Region Championship in Grand Junction, Colorado Thursday afternoon.
Tarleton stacked its first ever NCAA Tournament win on the back of its first Lone Star Conference Championship title and moves on to face No. 2 seed Colorado School of Mines or No. 7 Arkansas-Fort Smith at 6 p.m. (CST) on Saturday. The regional final is 4 p.m. (CST) on Sunday.
Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Year Hailey Roberts led everyone with 15 kills. She hit .357, the best percentage by any player with at least 13 attempts. The Daktronics first-team all-region selection also had seven digs and an ace, but committed five service errors.
Kenya Alexander, another first-team all-region pick from Tarleton, had 10 points and eight blocks. Roberts scored a match-best 16.5 points, and Alexander was second with 14.5. Setting up the hitters were Emily Medlin with 20 assists and Chandler Gow with 15.
There was never a lead change and only two total ties over the opening two sets, as the TexAnns cruised. Their only early hiccup came at the backend of the first set, when they held match point three times before finally grabbing a 1-0 lead on their fourth try.
The third set was back and forth the whole way with 19 ties and seven lead changes. Metro State led 30-29 before Tarleton scored the final three to advance.