Offense explodes for #22 Tarleton in four-set win over Pioneers

DENTON – Tarleton got double-digit kill performances from three different players and hit .322 as a team en route to knocking off Texas Woman’s in four sets Tuesday night.

The match, despite being against a familiar conference rival Texas Woman’s, will count as an in-region win only for Tarleton. The match against the Pioneers – as will this season’s later match in Stephenville – will not count in the conference or division standings.

Tarleton jumped out on top quickly as Lauren Kersey landed the first point of the match on a kill shot to spark a 6-1 run for the Texans. After the Pioneers rallied to knot up the score at 11-11, Tatyana Tuialii-Umi’s third kill of the opening set got the Texans rolling with a 7-2 run to extend the lead to 18-12.

The Pioneers pulled within four but Kersey finished what she started with the set-clinching kill to close out a 25-19 win.

After Texas Woman’s used a late surge to pull away in set two to even the set, Tarleton would not be denied the third. The Texans scored 16 of the first 30 points to hold a slim 16-14 edge in the set and then Tuialli-Umi and Sofia Tonga took over.

Tuialli-Umi started a 9-0 run with a kill shot and then she combined with Tonga for two blocks while Tonga finished the run with a kill and added two more solo blocks to dominate the run. Adriana Darthuy added a kill, as well.

In the fourth set, Amber Strange started things off for Tarleton and the Texans opened on a 10-2 run. The Pioneers pulled as close as seven but would get no closer as Tarleton cruised to a 25-13 win in the final set to complete the win.

Tuialii-Umi led the way with 15 kills on a .333 hit percentage to go along with 10 digs for her first career double-double. Strange (.333) and Kersey (.357) each boasted 12 kills on the night while topping a .300 hit percentage.

Tonga just missed a double-double of her own as the senior middle led the team with 10 blocks and added seven kills on a .400 hit percentage. Tarleton hit .322 as a team, which is a season high. Amari Franklin paced the offense with 36 assists and 10 digs while Kayla Brannon added 16 assists. Michaela Rodriguez (19) and Darthuy (15) combined for 34 digs to lead the team.

Tarleton will return home Friday night at 6 p.m. to host Dallas Baptist in a conference divisional match in Wisdom Gym.


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