FORT WORTH – For the second time this season, Tarleton Volleyball defeated TCU in its inaugural Division I season. Only this time it was in Fort Worth on the Horned Frogs’ home court to sweep the season series.
Led by a career-high 22 kills from Amber Strange, the Texans (11-11, 4-8) downed TCU in a five-set thriller: 17-25, 25-19, 18-25, 25-23, 15-13. Strange also hit .438 for the match to lead the team. Lauren Kersey added 11 kills while hitting .346.
Tarleton hit .228 for the match and its defense forced 27 attack errors by TCU in the come-from-behind road win. The offense was paced by Kayla Brannon with 43 assists, her fifth 40-assist game of the season and third highest total of her career. Brannon also added 16 digs for her 10th double-double this year.
Brannon was one of three Texans with double-digit digs, joining Ana Costas with 19 and Emma Halcomb adding 10. Kersey and Brianna Rhodes led the Texans at the net with four blocks each.
The Texans held leads at 5-2 and 16-15 in the first set but TCU went on a 10-1 run to close out the opening frame to take the early lead.
After falling behind 2-0 in the second set, the Texans quickly rallied behind three straight attack errors by TCU to go up 4-3. The Texans never trailed the rest of the set leading by as much as six at 17-11. The Horned Frogs cut the deficit to 17-14 but Amari Franklin ended the run with one of her eight kills and Lorin McNeil followed with a block to lead 19-15. Kersey had a kill and block on back-to-back possession before Strange evened the match at 1-1 with a set-winning kill.
TCU used a pair of 4-0 runs in the third set to pull away from the Texans and take a 2-1 lead in the match. The next two sets, however, were all Tarleton to steal a road win against a Big 12 opponent.
The Texans were all even late in the third set at 19-19 when two straight TCU attack errors and a kill by McNeil pushed the momentum towards Tarleton. McNeil finished with seven kills on the day. Strange added a kill for a 23-20 lead but TCU rallied to move it to 24-23 before another Horned Frog attack error evened the match at 2-2.
In the fifth and deciding set, TCU jumped out to a 3-1 lead before the Texans reeled off four straight points on kills from Rhodes, Strange and Kersey. TCU tied the score at 10-10 and the two squads would exchange points until the Texans went up 14-13 on an attack error. Strange put the finishing touches on her career day with the game-winning kill in the fifth set, her fifth kill of the frame.
Tarleton will close out its first NCAA Division I season at home against UTRGV on March 22-23 with both matches 6 p.m. in the Wisdom Volleyball Gym.