A&M-Commerce 3, Incarnate Word 2
Location: The Field House • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (10-14, 5-11 LSC); Incarnate Word (10-15, 6-11 LSC)
Up Next: vs. Texas A&M-Kingsville • Saturday, Oct. 29 • 7 p.m.
COMMERCE, Texas -- Rachel Robertson had arguably her best night in a Lion uniform, knocking down a career-best 24 kills and adding 10 digs for her first career double-double as A&M-Commerce rallied from a 2-0 deficit to upend Incarnate Word 3-2 at the Field House. The Lions picked up a key Lone Star Conference victory, improving to 10-14 on the year and 5-11 in conference play.
"We know our season is on the line, and we told them that we have to want it more than they do," said head coach Craig Case. "Every team we've beaten this year, we've done it because we wanted it more, and we set the challenge down right there (at the intermission). We just tried to stay focused and play in the moment, and we were able to get the win. I'm proud of our players for the way they responded tonight."
Robertson's 24 kills came on 61 attempts with just five errors for a .311 hitting percentage. She also had a pair of key service aces in the fifth set and set a career-best with 10 digs for her first career double-double.
The freshman duo of Ezon Onditi and Breanne Snyder were also huge in the win for A&M-Commerce as each finished with 14 kills on the night. Snyder had just two errors for a .364 hitting percentage with three service aces and a career-best 22 digs for the fourth double-double of her career. Onditi had her career-best 14 kills on 49 swings with five errors for a .184 hitting percentage. She also posted a double-double with 15 digs and a service ace.
Kayla Bond was solid as well for the Lions, finishing with nine kills and a match-high five blocks. Jordan Neal also had a career night for A&M-Commerce, dishing out a personal-best 65 assists with three digs and a service ace. Morgan Moeller and Savanah Neal came up big on the defensive end, recording 18 and 17 digs respectively.
The opening set was incredibly competitive as both A&M-Commerce and Incarnate Word combined for 12 ties and five lead changes. With the set tied at 19-19, the Cardinals found their groove late, pulling out to a 24-22 lead. The Lions were able to fight off the set point, but an Incarnate Word kill closed out the opener 25-23.
The Cardinals carried that momentum into the second as an 8-1 run midway through the stanza proved to be the difference, racing out to a 19-12 lead and never looked back. Incarnate Word held off A&M-Commerce down the stretch, taking the convincing 25-17 decision and opening up a 2-0 lead in the match.
A&M-Commerce had the upper hand early in the third, scoring five of the first six points and held a 9-5 edge on Incarnate Word, but the Cardinals rallied again, taking a two-point lead at 19-17. A&M-Commerce was down to their last point as Incarnate Word found themselves serving for match point at 24-23, but three unanswered tallies by the Lions, including a kill and a pair of blocks by Snyder, gave A&M-Commerce the 26-24 win and seemed to breathe new life into the team.
Set four played out in similar fashion as the Lions pounced out to the early lead, only to see the Cardinals rally back, ultimately tying the set at 17-17 late. A&M-Commerce knocked down the next two and was able to keep Incarnate Word at bay down the stretch as a kill by Robertson sealed the fourth 25-23.
With all the momentum on the Lions' side, they established themselves early in the fifth, but this time never looked back. A&M-Commerce notched nine of the first 11 points of the fifth, taking a commanding 9-2 lead, then closed out the match on a 6-3 run, including the pair of aces by Robertson, to seal the riveting come-from-behind victory. The Lions had nine kills with no errors on 13 attempts in the fifth set, posting an impressive .692 hitting percentage.
The rally from the 0-2 deficit was the first for A&M-Commerce since rallying to defeat Arkansas-Monticello in 2010. With the victory, the Lions move into ninth place in the Lone Star Conference standings, a half game ahead of Texas A&M-Kingsville and a half game back of the Cardinals for eighth-place as the Lions make the push to try and qualify for the LSC tournament.
Incarnate Word had four players with at least 13 kills on the night, led by 16 from Daniella Vidaurri and 15 from Chelsea Grayson. Stephanie Bonura and Anna Herr each added 13 while libero Lydia Werchan had an impressive night for the Cardinals, finishing with 37 digs. Sarah Cardenas added 23 digs for Incarnate Word.
A&M-Commerce now has a chance to try and make some more noise in the conference standings, hosting ninth-place Texas A&M-Kingsville Saturday afternoon. The match against the Javelinas gets underway at 2 p.m. at the Field House.