Tarleton Volleyball falls in five sets to UT Arlington

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STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton Volleyball rallied from an 0-2 deficit to force a fifth and deciding set before ultimately falling to UT Arlington 3-2 (24-26, 19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 11-15) on Friday in the Wisdom Volleyball Gym.

The Texans were led by Amber Strange’s team-high 19 kills while Lauren Kersey followed with 16 kills on a .353 hitting percentage and Lorin McNeil added a dozen kills on a match-leading .579 hitting percentage.

Tarleton (1-6) opened the match trailing 14-6 to the Mavericks (13-8) before the Texans stormed back on a 11-2 run to take its first lead of the set at 17-16. After trading points to the tune of a 22-22 tie, Strange and Kersey powered down back-to-back kills for a 24-22 advantage, but the Mavs snatched the momentum with the next three points to take the opening set.

In the second set, the Texans broke through after a back-and-forth start to take an 18-16 advantage on a pair of Kersey kills after neither team led by more than a point. The Mavs answered with a run of its own, scoring nine of the next 10 points in the set to take a 2-0 advantage in the match.

Not to be denied on its home court, the Texans jumped out of the gate in the must-win set with a 6-0 run to have its largest lead of the match at 21-15 that featured kills from Carmen Kinsey, who had six kills in the match, followed by kills from McNeil and Kersey while Kayla Brannon added a service ace. The Texans maintained a comfortable lead facing set point at 24-18 when the Mavs reeled off three straight points to cut it to 24-21. Strange put an end to the comeback bid with a kill to take the set and put the match at 2-1.

Needing to force a fifth set, the Texans and Mavs were tied at 20-20 before the Texans closed the set on a 5-1 run. McNeil and Kersey led the attack with three straight kills to regain the lead and force a UTA timeout. McNeil and Hali’A Swartman-Hogan met the Mavs at the net with a block to get to set point and an attack error on UTA gave the Texans the set win at 25-21.

In the winner-take-all set, the Mavs built an early 5-2 advantage. Hogan and McNeil brought Tarleton within one at 10-9, but it was as close as the Texans would get as the Mavs followed with four straight points to pull away and win the match.

Kayla Brannon paced the offense with 37 assists while Melina Maldonado added 17 assists. Ana Costas posted a team-leading 22 digs and Isabel Gonzaba joined her in double digits with 11 digs. Natalya Chatham and Strange controlled the net with four blocks each with Chatham also adding five kills on a .444 hitting percentage.

Tarleton will look to split the series with UT Arlington on Saturday, Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. in the Wisdom Volleyball Gym.


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