STONY BROOK – Tarleton fell victim to a hot-hitting Sea Wolves squad on Friday, dropping the opening contest of a three-match tournament to Stony Brook 3-1.
The Sea Wolves claimed the first frame at 25-18 before Tarleton rallied to win a wild second set that featured 10 ties and four lead changes by a score of 27-25. Stony Brook then won the next two sets by respective margins of 25-15 and 25-20.
Tarleton twice rallied from early deficits in set two. Tarleton rattled off a 4-0 run to erase an 8-4 Sea Wolves advantage behind bookended kills from Kinsey and a service ace by McNeil. The senior later gave Tarleton its first lead of the match at 16-15 with two straight service aces after Tarleton clawed its way out of an 11-8 hole.
McNeil finished with a season-high four service aces. The Rockwall, Texas native now leads Tarleton with eight for the year and is tied for eighth in the Western Athletic Conference.
Stony Brook again regained the initiative in the seesaw second set behind a quick 3-0 spurt to lead it 18-16. Tarleton then seized back momentum following a timeout from head coach Mary Schindler.
Elise Smith delivered her first of two blocks of the match to put Tarleton back in front at 20-19. The Texans then set up match point at 24-22 on a trio of kills from Amber Strange and one from Lauren Kersey – all of which were assisted on by Kayla Brannon.
Brannon again engineered the Texans’ offensive attack despite the loss. She turned in her fourth 30-assist game in seven tries this season, dishing out a season-high 37.
Kinsey put the Sea Wolves away after the tournament host tied the set at 24. Her seventh of a team-high 12 kills gave Tarleton a one-point edge on the ensuing play. The outside hitter then hammered home a block attack two possessions later to seal the set victory.
Five of Strange’s 10 kills came in the second set. The tally was a season high for Strange, who eclipsed 1,100 career kills in the match. She currently ranks eighth in program history with 1,108 kills and needs 10 more to move to seventh on Tarleton’s career records list.
The Texans turned in their best collective effort on both sides of the net in set two. The team laced home 13 kills on 32 swings with three errors for a .286 hitting percentage while limiting Stony Brook to a .262 percent clip.
Tarleton led 4-2 to open the match but Stony Brook ripped off a 12-3 scoring spurt to double up the Texans. Tarleton later got within three points of the Sea Wolves at 17-14 before ultimately dropping the set.
Stony Brook finished with season-highs hitting percentage (.356) and assists (66) on the strength of 68 kills.
Tarleton built three-point advantages early in sets three and four and tied the fourth frame at 14 but never led past the 15-point threshold in either frame. The Texans hit .211 as a team with 50 digs, 47 kills and 44 assists.
Defensively, Ana Costas led Tarleton in digs with 13 while Emma Halcomb delivered eight of her own off the bench. Smith’s two-block performance was her third of the fall.
The Texans’ overall record dipped to 3-4 with the defeat while Stony Brook improved its mark to 3-5. Tarleton wraps up the nonconference tournament with a pair of matches on Saturday, first vs. fellow NCAA Division I transition team St. Thomas at 8:30 a.m. before concluding its stay on Long Island against Yale at 3 p.m.