NACOGDOCHES – The Tarleton volleyball team suffered a loss in four sets (16-25, 25-20, 20-25, 21-25) to Stephen F. Austin on Thursday evening in Shelton Gym to open Western Athletic Conference play.
Although the Texans (8-7, 0-1 WAC) walked away from Thursday with a loss, they played inspired volleyball in a hostile environment taking on a team, SFA (13-1, 1-0 WAC), that was 12-1 entering the match.
After Tarleton’s kills leader Grayson Schirpik exited the match in set one with an injury, it was time for others to step up. They did just that.
Megan Haynes landed a career-high 15 kills on .289 hitting along with four total blocks to pave the way for the Texans. The freshmen duo of Breanna McDonough and Joselyn Roberson each played a big part in the match. McDonough finished with a career-high 13 kills on .370 hitting and Roberson added nine kills on .269 hitting. Freshman Ailie Hair had five kills and five blocks, including three solo blocks, a career high. Matti Theurer led the Texans with a season-high 14 digs.
The player facilitating nearly all of the offense was freshman Megan Hodges. She finished with her third career double-double, a career high 36 assists to pair with 10 digs. She also added two blocks including a solo block, the first two of her career.
SFA came out hot in set one, leading wall to wall and holding Tarleton a a match low .138 hitting.
The Texans responded quickly in set two. A 4-0 run that saw kills from Hair, McDonough and Haynes upped the Texan lead to 13-9, a lead they never lost. They hit a match high .400 in the set, with Haynes adding five kills. The lead grew to as much as seven when Hodges landed an ace to make the lead 23-16 in favor of Tarleton. SFA sprinkled in four points throughout the rest of the set to make it interesting, but ultimately Tarleton got the set win 25-20 to tie the match at one.
The next two sets were the definition of back and forth. SFA escaped both, relying on their veteran laden squad as Tarleton ran out as many as five freshmen on the court at one time in the fourth set.
The third set saw Tarleton tie the Ladyjacks at nine off a kill from Haynes. SFA reeled off four straight points, but the Texans were not fazed. They scored four of the next five with kills from three different freshmen, McDonough, Hair and Roberson, to come within 14-13.
In set four, Tarleton took a 13-12 lead midway through off an SFA attack error. Following that, SFA took off on an 8-0 run that proved to be too much to overcome. The Texans battled back to make it a 23-21 game at one point, but SFA took the next two points to win the match.
The Texans return to action with their WAC home opener on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT vs. UTRGV. Tickets can be purchased here. The match will be streamed on ESPN+.