STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton made sure to put an emphatic stamp on day one of the Texan Invitational.
The Texans (2-0) took down Fairleigh Dickinson (0-1) in the morning match and followed with a sweep of Northwestern State (1-1) in the nightcap.
Match 1: Tarleton 3, Fairleigh Dickinson 1
(25-21, 19-25, 27-25, 25-23)
The season opener was tightly contested throughout as three of four sets were decided by less than four points. In the first set, FDU jumped out to an early 5-1 lead off a few Texan attack errors. The Texans battled back to tie it at seven, thanks to back-to-back kills from sophomore Megan Haynes and junior Grayson Schirpik. The set was back and forth the rest of the way with the largest run being 4-0 as Tarleton pieced together two kills from Haynes, a service ace from freshman Ailie Hair and a kill from senior Brianna Rhodes.
Set two was much of the same, with no team holding a lead of more than four until late with the score at 21-19 advantage FDU. The Knights harnessed some momentum and went on a 4-0 run to take the set 25-19 behind three straight kills from Kylie Nott, who finished with 11 for the Knights.
Tarleton jumped out to an early 11-4 lead in set four that was sparked by a kill from junior Jaylibeth Garcia-Rosa and a service ace from junior Melina Maldonado. The Texans never trailed in the set but allowed FDU to creep back in as they cut it to 22-21 late in the set. The teams traded points but ultimately two straight kills from Schirpik delivered Tarleton the win.
Schirpik had a stellar first match as a Texan. She finished with a match-high 16 kills as well as 10 digs, good for a double-double. Haynes and Garcia-Rosa each contributed 11 kills, with Hair adding 10. Maldonado and freshman Megan Hodges paved the way with 28 and 25 assists, respectively. Freshman Breanna McDonough had nine kills in her collegiate debut. Tarleton hit at a .321 clip compared to the Knights .221.
Match 2: Tarleton 3, Northwestern State 0
(25-22, 25-19, 25-17)
After Northwestern State handled ULM in five sets previously in the day, it looked like the Texans would have their work cut out for them. The team responded to a jam-packed Wisdom Gym with a sweep of the Lady Demons, playing with seemingly boundless energy.
A key part of the sweep was service aces. Tarleton placed the ball where NSU could not return it 13 times, compared to twice for NSU. Schirpik and Hair had four aces to lead the way, with Hodges adding two and three other Texans landing one apiece.
Set one was all about runs for both teams. NSU put together a 8-1 run early to take a 10-5 lead. The Texans responded immediately with a 4-0 run, thanks in part to three errors from the Demons. The lead was traded from there, but never grew to more than four points on either side. McDonough had three kills in the set, including the emphatic 25th point that had Wisdom Gym in an uproar.
Tarleton stymied NSU throughout the next two sets, never allowing the Demons to get momentum rolling in their favor. After NSU tied it at 13 in set two, the Texans never gave their lead up again. Six Demon errors as well as three Texan service aces and two kills from Hair helped lead the Texans to a 2-0 advantage.
Set three was closing time, and Schirpik heard the music. She had six kills and three service aces in the set to help Tarleton claim victory.
McDonough had a match-high nine kills, Schirpik added seven and Haynes and Hair each had five. Hodges led with 16 assists and Costas had a team-high nine digs. Freshman Emma Burke had two kills and two block assists, including the final kill of the match.
Tarleton will close out the Texan Invitational with the final match on Sunday. The Texans will face ULM (0-1) at 5 p.m. It is kids night with free posters and autograph availability.