(Tarleton Sports courtesy photo)
(Tarleton Sports courtesy photo)

SAN ANGELO – After suffering a tough five-set loss to begin the day, Tarleton State rallied from a two-set deficit against Arkansas-Monticello to complete a thrilling comeback on the final day of the Kathleen Brasfield Invitational at Angelo State.

“I’m so proud of this team,” said head coach Mary Schindler. “We had some things not go our way and we made some mistakes that hurt us, but they fought hard, never gave up and got the win.”

Game 1: Missouri Southern State 3, Tarleton 2

The TexAnns dropped their first match of the season in a five-set heartbreaker against Missouri Southern State to open the second day of the Kathleen Brasfield Invitational at Angelo State.

Tarleton got the morning started with a kill shot from Kaitlyn White for the first point of the match. After that, however, the Lions struck for a 7-3 run to take an early lead.

An attack error by the Lions turned the serve back over to Tarleton and the TexAnns took advantage by reclaiming the lead at 12-10. The teams stayed tightly contested over the next 15 points, with neither team leading by more than two and the set going to a tie six times through 19-19.

A service ace from Hailey Roberts gave Tarleton a 20-19 advantage and started a 6-2 Tarleton run down the stretch to secure the set 25-21. White, who started the game with a kill, ended it the same way off a pass from Emily Medlin.

Tarleton dominated most of set No. 2, taking a 22-17 lead late into the set, but a 9-2 Missouri Southern run down the stretch ended the set at 26-24 and evened the match at 1-1.

In the third set, the TexAnns again dominated early on as Tarleton built a 15-10 midway through the game. However, the Lions rallied back with a 10-5 run to even the set at 20-20 and eventually 22-22 before questions arose.

The 45th point of the set was called in Tarleton’s favor by the sky official, but was overturned by the line judge to give Missouri Southern a 23-22 lead. The next point, which appeared to go Tarleton’s way, was called a point for MSSU off a tipped block attempt. The Lions landed a kill to take the third set 25-22.

Tarleton rebounded well, despite the tough loss in set three, by handling the Lions with ease in the fourth set. The TexAnns dominated the entire way, building a lead as large as 11 at 22-11, and getting the final three points they needed from Kenya Alexander on two kills and a block to take it 25-14.

The Lions were in control of the final set from the get-go, leading by as many as six en route to the final score of 15-10.

Tarleton’s offense struggled in every set except the dominant fourth set. The TexAnns hit .370 as a team in the fourth set but hit below .100 in every other set, including (-).019 in the second game.

Roberts had her third straight double-double with 14 kills and 19 digs while Kenya Alexander had 11 kills for her first double-figure kill total of the season to go along with eight blocks.

Katie Covell led the team in digs for the third straight game with a career-high 32 while Roberts (19), Ayssa Garcia (13) and Chandler Gow (10) also had double figures. Gow also led the team with 28 assists for her first career double-double. Emily Medlin added 23 assists of her own.

Game 2: Tarleton 3, Arkansas-Monticello 2

Tarleton fought back from an 0-2 hole to begin the match to defeat the Arkansas-Monticello Cotton Blossoms 3-2 and improve to 3-1 on the young season.

The first set was tight through the first 34 points, with Tarleton holding a slight advantage and score coming to a tie seven times including 17-17. The 35th point went in the Cotton Blossoms’ favor and triggered an 8-4 UAM run to put the TexAnns down 0-1 after the opening set.

In the second set, UAM jumped out to a 7-2 lead on the strength of three service aces and two Tarleton attack errors and rode the early advantage all the way to the win in game two at 25-17.

Things looked bleak for the TexAnns in set No. 3 as the Cotton Blossoms jumped out to a 9-2 lead and eventually 10-4, but a Kelsey Raglin block on the 15th point of the set turned the tide of the entire match.

Raglin’s block was the start of a 12-6 Tarleton run to even the set at 16-16 and the set stayed even through 20-20 when Katie Covell struck for a kill that started the game-clinching 5-1 run. Of the final five points of the third set, Covell landed three kills.

In the fourth set, Tarleton carried the momentum with dominance and blasted the Cotton Blossoms 25-10 for force a decisive fifth set.

Neither team was able to pull away in the fifth set as the teams had nine ties and never led by more than two over the first 20 points, which set up a 10-10 tie and first-to-five, winner-take-all scenario.

At 10-10, Ashley Rine drilled back-to-back kill shots to put Tarleton up 12-10 before the TexAnns got a free point on a UAM miscue, forcing a Cotton Blossom timeout at 13-10.

After a Tarleton error made it 13-11 out of the break, Tarleton ended the game on a Kenya Alexander kill and a Cottom Blossom error to complete the comeback.

Tarleton struggled on offense through the first three sets, hitting just (-).040 in the first set, .103 in the second and (-).021 in the third but dominated sets four and five with a .250 and .333 team hitting percentage.

Katie Covell led the team with 16 kills – 13 of which came in the final three sets – and led the team in digs with 25 for her first double-double of the season.

Ayssa Garcia also topped the 20-dig plateau with 24 while Macie Walker and Hailey Roberts had 14 and 10 digs, respectively. Walker, who came off the bench to play setter in the final three sets, led the team with a career-high 30 assists for her first career double-double. Chandler Gow added 11 assists of her own.

Tarleton State will have Sunday off before returning to action Monday night on the road at Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth. The TexAnns will make their Stephenville debut Tuesday night when they host Texas A&M-Commerce at 7 p.m. in Wisdom Gym.