Tarleton State 3, A&M-Commerce 2
Location: Wisdom Gym · Stephenville, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (12-5, 4-4 LSC); Tarleton State (12-5, 7-2 LSC)
Up Next: at No. 12 Angelo State · Saturday, Oct. 6 · 2 p.m.
STEPHENVILLE, Texas – A&M-Commerce went on the road and gave Tarleton State everything it could handle, but the TexAnns outlasted the Lions in the decisive fifth set, handing A&M-Commerce a 22-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-18, 11-15 defeat at Wisdom Gym Friday evening. The Lions fall to 12-5 overall and 4-4 in Lone Star Conference play.
The Lions had three players finish with 10 or more kills on the night, led by a big night from senior middle blocker Rachel Robertson, who had 20 kills with just two errors, hitting .486 with a pair of blocks. Ezon Onditi notched a season-best 15 kills for A&M-Commerce while Breanne Snyder posted 10 kills, a pair of aces and seven digs.
Kayla Bond finished with eight kills for the Lions as setter Jordan Neal dished out 51 assists with three aces, three blocks and seven digs. Libero Michaela Spicer led A&M-Commerce's defense with 20 digs, her third-straight 20-plus dig effort and eighth of the season.
In what proved to be an extremely competitive match all evening, Tarleton State had 52 kills, hitting .182 on the night while A&M-Commerce logged 58 kills with a .181 hitting percentage. The Lions held the edge in assists (55-48) while the TexAnns were slightly better in digs (69-65) and blocks (9-6) as both teams recorded nine service aces.
The opening set set the tone for the evening as both teams logged a pair of runs. The Lions gain the early advantage, building a seven-point edge at 15-8 and appeared to be in control. But fueled on by the hometown crowd, Tarleton State responded with an 8-1 run to tie the set at 16-16. With the set tied at 20-20, the TexAnns then notched five of the final seven points to complete the rally, taking the opener 25-22.
Set two played out in similar fashion to the opener as A&M-Commerce pounced out to an early lead, only to see Tarleton State rally to tie things up at 10-10. But this time, it was the Lions that found their groove, building a five-point edge at 16-11 and never looking back. A&M-Commerce would lead by as many as six at 23-17 off a pair of aces from Savanah Neal, then held off the TexAnns to claim the second 25-19.
Set three belonged to Tarleton as the TexAnns used a 9-1 run to take a commanding 19-11 lead and took control of the set with a 25-17 decision. Leading 14-10 in the fourth, momentum belonged to Tarleton State as the TexAnns appeared on the verge of shutting the door in four. But A&M-Commerce wasn't ready to fold, stringing together an 11-2 run of its own to take control at 21-16, then closing out the fourth with a 25-18 decision to force the decisive fifth set.
That momentum carried over into the fifth as after falling behind early, the Lions looked poised to take a huge road victory, leading 11-8 on the TexAnns home floor. But Tarleton State had one last rally left in the tank and responded in a major way, notching the final seven points of the match to snatch away the victory from the Lions with a 15-11 final set win.
For Tarleton State, Nikki McNorton led the way with 20 kills and a blistering .536 hitting percentage while adding three blocks. Katie Covell added 12 kills and 11 digs for the TexAnns as Tarleton State notched its third-straight victory over A&M-Commerce and seventh in the last nine meetings.
A&M-Commerce will have to put the tough defeat behind them as its toughest challenge of the season to date is next up on the horizon. The Lions travel to San Angelo for a showdown with 12th-ranked Angelo State Saturday afternoon. The Rambelles sit in sole possession of first place in the Lone Star Conference standings following their 3-1 victory over Texas Woman's Friday evening. Opening serve is set for 2 p.m. with live video and live stats available through LionAthletics.com.