By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 18, 2017) — There is no doubt Hailey Roberts is the best volleyball player in the Lone Star Conference.
There is no doubt Tarleton State is the best team.
TheTex Anns were as dominant in the final of the LSC Championship Saturday as they had been all weekend, completing their run to the championship without losing a single set in Wisdom Volleyball Gym, where they hosted the tournament for the second three years and won it in front of their adoring home fans for the first time in program history.
“This is incredible, and these ladies have earned it. We’ve earned it all year long, and to have it come to fruition like this, it’s just so exciting,” said 10th year Tarleton head coach and former TexAnn player Mary Schindler, who was further pleased to do it in dominating fashion with three sweeps. “I’ve known that’s what we’re capable of and it’s something we wanted to do. It’s been building and building, and to not just win both but do it in the way that we did is a testament to our players’ fortitude.”
Tarleton (29-5) beat surprise finalist Texas Woman’s (16-18), the No. 6 seed in the event, 25-14, 25-18, 25-19, completing a sweep of the LSC season-long and tournament championships for the first time as a program and the fourth time among all the school’s sports since Tarleton joined NCAA Division II and the conference in 1995.
Roberts was named MVP three days after being crowned both LSC Player of the Year and LSC Offensive Player of the Year. Jordyn Keamo, one of only two LSC players to ever be named conference setter of the year more than once in her carer, joined Roberts on the all-tournament team. So did Adrianna Knutson, the libero who led the team in digs in each match of the tourney.
“That’s Hailey Roberts and that’s Jordyn Keamo. I don’t know what else to say,” Schindler remarked. “They are absolutely incredible players and leaders for us because they are both amazing young women all around.”
The TexAnns sixth consecutive win and 21st over their past 22 matches has them in position to potentially host the South Central Region Championship in Stephenville. They need some help, however, as they are ranked second in the region behind Regis (Colo.), which meets Metro State (Colo.) in the final of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament at 6 p.m. (CST) Saturday. Tarleton has the LSC’s automatic bid into the tournament, and will certainly be seeded no lower than No. 2.
Roberts led the attack with 12 kills and four blocks, but it was the balance of the TexAnns – as it has been all season – that made them so lethal. Granbury product Amber Strange, a freshman middle, added nine kills and a match-high five blocks, while fellow middle Hannah McManus had three to go with six kills.
“Our middles played phenomenally,” Schindler stated. “Hailey Roberts is going to be Hailey Roberts and Jordyn Keamo is going to be Jordyn Keamo, they are two of the best players in the country. They both have really stepped up their game and are doing a great job.”
Keamo, of course, set up most of the damage, collecting 26 assists to go with her dazzling four service aces including three straight as the TexAnns wasted no time proclaiming their dominance with authority in the opening set. Tarleton had seven aces and TWU was also strong serving the ball with six aced serves.
But the Pioneers couldn’t stay as close in other categories or on the scoreboard. Tarleton did not attack with near the efficiency used to batter West Texas A&M the night prior, but still hit .200 with 37 kills and 15 errors on 110 attacks. TWU hit just .076 with 26 kills and 18 errors on 105 attacks.
It’s the first time the Tarleton volleyball team has swept the season and tournament titles, though it has been done three other times in Tarleton’s 22-year LSC history. Men’s basketball has done it twice, most recently in 2013-14, and women’s basketball won both in 2011-12.