By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 19, 2015) — For the first time in 22 years as a member of the Lone Star Conference, Tarleton State earned the right to host a conference tournament match.
And the TexAnns did just what they’ve done all year at Wisdom Volleyball Gym – win without feeling much pressure.
Tarleton (26-5) is unbeaten at home, where the TexAnns have not been pushed to a fifth set all season. Nothing about that changed in the final quarterfinal match of the LSC Championship Thursday night, when the TexAnns cruised to a four-set, 25-19, 25-17, 23-25, 25-13 defeat of Eastern New Mexico (13-20).
The top seed after winning its first LSC regular season title, the TexAnns, defending champs in the tournament, wasted no time in flexing some post season muscle with an 11-0 run to begin the match. ENMU avoided a sweep, but Tarleton never really looked back.
The TexAnns face Cameron at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The other semifinal match is between Angelo State and Texas Woman’s at 5 p.m. The championship is set for 3 p.m. Saturday.
Chandler Gow quarterbacked the attack as effectively as she has all season. The sophomore setter racked up 44 assists, six digs, five block assists and even killed two balls. LSC Offensive Player of the Year Hailey Roberts had 15 kills and eight digs but also committed four service errors.
Xzache Mathis had 11 kills, and Kenya Alexander ollected nine along with nine total blocks. Kelsey Raglin made six kills, 10 digs and five block assists, while Meg Umbel had six kills and seven total blocks.
Eastern New Mexico fought to within 13-8 before Tarleton answered with three straight, capped by a missile of a kill shot launched by Roberts to right the ship at 16-8. Tarleton went on to win the first set on a kill by Kenya Alexander. Roberts and Raglin each had four kills in the set, and Gow started her night with 15 digs.
Roberts killed six balls and Gow had 11 assists in the second, which was tougher early on. Tarleton led just 7-6 until a kill by Xzache Mathis, and ultimately stretched the advantage to 18-13 on a kill and block by Alexander. The TexAnns pulled away down the stretch of the set, with a kill by Umbel and an ace by Gow bringing up match point before ENMU committed an attack error to end it.
ENMU staved off elimination in the third set thanks to points on three of the final four volleys after a 22-22 tie. Laura Landreth had a kill to put the Hounds up for good, then Kelsey Raglin missed long with an attack error for Tarleton. The TexAnns called timeout and ENMU put the ensuing serve into the net, but a kill by Lauren Frye finished off the set and kept the Greyhounds alive.
Only temporarily, however, with a run of six straight points giving Tarleton command with an 11-4 lead in the fourth. The advantage swelled to nine on three occasions before a kill by Umbel made it 23-13.
The Hounds were paced by Frye with 15 kills, Alexis Aguirre with 35 assists and Andrea Fuller with 12 digs.
Tarleton had a .237 attack percentage to just .022 for ENMU. The TexAnns committed 31 total errors, but that paled next to the 42 committed by the Hounds.
Photos courtesy DR. CHET MARTIN