Texans win Division I debut over Louisiana Tech in doubleheader split


NACOGDOCHES – Tarleton volleyball made history Friday evening by sweeping Louisiana Tech in its opening match, making it the first Division I vs. Division I win in university history.

The Texans played a doubleheader, hosted by Stephen F. Austin, and fell to the host Ladyjacks in the tournament finale to finish with a two-game split.

The Texans started their first match with a back-and-forth fight between the Lady Techsters. After Tarleton went on an eight-point run in the middle of the opening set, Louisiana Tech battled back but the Texans held off the Lady Techsters to take the set 25-21. The second set was another close battle with Tarleton jumping out to a 15-7 lead and finishing out the set with a 10-9 run and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

Tarleton came out hot in the last set, outlasting the Lady Techsters 25-16. The Texans posted a .343 hitting percentage for the last set totaling 15 kills.

Amber Strange led the charge in the Division I debut win with 15 kills, with freshman Selby Draker coming in just behind her with 11. Kayla Brannon (19) and Melina Maldonado (18) paced the offense with 37 assists and led the Texans to a .252 team hitting percentage while Emma Halcomb (14) and Amber Strange (11) led the team with 25 digs. Strange recorded her first career double-double while also establishing a new career high in digs.

In their second match of the doubleheader, the Texans battled it out with SFA but fell short 3-1. It was the second straight match in as many hours for the Texans and the season opener for SFA. After Lauren Kersey got the first kill of the first set, Tarleton fell behind the Ladyjacks. SFA jumped out early and went on to take the set, 25-18.

The Texans continued their run at the end of the first set and came out explosive in the second set. Hitting .517 for the set, the Texans could not be stopped outlasting SFA 25-15.

Tarleton had trouble defending the middle in the third and fourth sets and fell to SFA 25-8 in set 3 and 25-15 in set 4.

Amber Stranger (16), Lauren Kersey (11), and Carmen Kinsey (10) recorded 37 kills to give Tarleton a strong showing against SFA, who went 32-3 last season and made the NCAA Tournament. Kayla Brannon dominated in assists compiling 30 throughout the match.

Tarleton will open WAC play Monday, Jan. 25 against Grand Canyon in Phoenix, Arizona at 7 p.m. The Texans will be home for the first time this season Feb. 1-2 when they will host California Baptist in the Wisdom Volleyball Gym.

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