No. 1-seed Tarleton is heading to the NCAA Regional Championship game for the first time in program history with a four-set win over No. 4-seed Colorado School of Mines (25-20, 25-21, 26-28, 25-19) in the Wisdom Volleyball Gym.
The TexAnns, who are the No. 13-ranked team in the nation, improve their school-record win total to 31 with the victory.
Tarleton will face Lone Star Conference rival Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. in Wisdom Gym for a trip to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In the regional quarterfinals, it was the defense that carried the TexAnns. Tonight, it was the offense as the TexAnns hit .364 in the match, which is the third-highest percentage this season. Adriana Darthuy led all players with 17 kills on a .417 percentage while Lauren Kersey had 12 kills and hit .476 and Amber Strange had 11 kills while hitting .400.
The opening set was a grind for Tarleton, as Colorado School of Mines and the TexAnns were tied at 16 halfway through the first frame. Kersey, a freshman from Norman, Oklahoma, powered down a kill to give the TexAnns the lead and they never trailed again. Leading 22-20, Darthuy delivered two straight kills and the TexAnns took the set on a Mines attack error.
Tarleton led in the second set from start to finish, opening up with a 7-2 run with three kills from Kersey and an ace from Hannah McManus. Tarleton’s lead would remain tight, however, as Mines kept the score to within four points until the end. Tatyana Tuialii-Umi provided clutch kills late in the set to give Tarleton a 22-18 advantage. McManus hammered home the final point of the set to go up 2-0 in the match.
Colorado School of Mines took the third set from Tarleton, as the TexAnns led 24-21 before eventually falling 28-26.
The TexAnns weren’t affected by their first dropped set of the regional tournament, as they jumped out to a 16-10 lead in the fourth led by an 11-2 run. McManus, Strange and Blanca Izquierdo, who had a team-high 25 assists, poured in three straight kills for a 22-16 lead. Amber Strange made it match point with a kill and Elizabeth Muliaga’s only kill in the match was the game winner.
Adrianna Knutson controlled the defense once again with a team-leading 18 digs and also added seven assists. Kayla Brannon, who had 20 assists, also added nine digs. Hannah McManus recorded a match-high seven blocks and Tuialii-Umi had four blocks to go with nine kills.