STEPHENVILLE – Saturday featured a showdown of Lone Star Conference and national volleyball giants inside the walls of Wisdom Gym and, in the end, the proud defenders of the purple and white came out on top.
Tarleton State improved to 8-2 on the season and 2-0 in LSC action while dropping Texas A&M-Commerce to a 6-4, 0-2 mark. The match featured the only two nationally-ranked programs from the LSC with Commerce at 17 and Tarleton at 24.
Led by three players with double-double performances, Tarleton won the second, fourth, and fifth sets Saturday afternoon.
Commerce jumped out to a quick lead in the match after taking the opening set 25-22, but Tarleton answered back in the second by staving off a set-point situation with Commerce leading 24-23. Hannah McManus, who recorded her first career double-double with 13 kills and 11 blocks for the match, landed a kill shot to even things up at 24-24. Commerce took the advantage right back but Tarleton got back-to-back points on one of Sofia Tonga’s career-high 10 blocks and a service ace from Kayla Brannon to swing the advantage 26-25.
After Commerce tied it at 26-26, Tarleton put the set away with a kill from Amber Strange and a set-clinching block from Tonga and Elizabeth Muliaga to even the match at 1-1.
Commerce won the third set 25-21 before Tarleton answered back in the fourth, leading the whole way and winning the set by an identical 25-21 score to force the decisive fifth set.
The Lions scored five of the first nine points in the fifth to force Tarleton into a timeout but McManus got Tarleton on the board out of the break with a kill shot to even things up at 5-5. That kill sparked a 6-0 Tarleton run to double-up the score at 10-5. Over that run, Tarleton got two Adriana Darthuy aces, two blocks from McManus – one alongside Strange and one alongside Lauren Kersey – and kills from McManus and Kersey.
After Commerce pulled within three at 11-8, Tarleton put away the final four points of the set on a kill from Strange, a block from Tonga, a Commerce error, and the match-winning kill from Tatyana Tuialii-Umi.
In addition to McManus, Darthuy and Blanca Izquierdo also had double-double performances.
Darthuy led the team with 16 kills and 22 digs while Izquierdo dished out 32 assists and had 16 digs. Kersey put away 12 kills while Strange also had 10. Tonga just missed her first career double-double with seven kills and 10 blocks.
Kayla Brannon also helped pace the offense with 20 assists off the bench while Adrianna Knutson had 21 digs to lead the Tarleton defense that held Commerce to a .182 hit percentage.
Tarleton will be back in action Tuesday in Wisdom Gym as they play host to Angelo State at 7 p.m. in LSC action. It will be Tarleton ‘Corps of Cadets Night’ as the TexAnns welcome the members of Tarleton’s ROTC program to the match.