TWU defeated No. 5 Angelo State 25-18, 25-19, 19-25, 15-25, 15-12 on Saturday at Kitty Magee Arena to notch the biggest upset in program history.
The previous biggest win over a ranked opponent occurred in 2013 when the Pioneers beat No. 11 Washburn.
Against the Belles (8-3, 1-2 Lone Star), Miri Shade and Haley Collins each recorded a team-high 12 kills while Kerstin Jenkins and Briley Cole-Lewis added 11 apiece. Jenkins tallied 17 digs for her third double-double of the year, Katy Ranes delivered a match-high 50 assists and Bailey French handled a match-high 20 digs.
The Pioneers (3-7, 1-1) trailed midway through Set 1 at 13-9 before igniting a comeback via an 8-0 run beginning with a kill by Collins and finished by back-to-back kills by Cole-Lewis. Erin Jones finished off a TWU rally with a deep boot over the net that landed on ASU's endline to close the set.
A Shade kill gave TWU a 10-9 lead in Set 2, and three straight Belle errors put the Pioneers up 16-12. A tip by Jenkins kept the Pioneers up 17-14, and a block by Shade and Collins extended the lead to 20-15. ASU closed to within 20-17, but three straight TWU points made it 23-17 before Shade fired through a block to put the Pioneers up two sets.
Cole-Lewis placed a kill across the tape to keep TWU within 20-18 in the third set, but the Pioneers were only able to muster one more point.
Cole-Lewis began the fourth set on a kill, but TWU was unable to lead again.
In the fifth set, consecutive kills by Collins and Shade put the Pioneers up 2-1, but a pair of ASU kills gave the visitors a 5-3 advantage. Collins hit a shot to the back corner for match point, and Cole-Lewis smoked a defender with a final kill for the victory.
"I'm really proud of our kids for playing with great resiliency," TWU coach Jeff Huebner said. "Senior leadership really did a lot for us and showed a ton of maturity. It's good to have an opportunity to beat the No. 5 team in the country.
"One of the biggest wins for us was the game-day environment -- our fans, band and dance team. Our students and families were terrific and really helped us throughout the match."
The Pioneers will host Texas A&M-Commerce at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
UNT wins Maroon Classic
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- North Texas defeated Jackson State 25-13, 25-7, 25-17 to finish 3-0 on the weekend and claim the Maroon Classic title.
UNT senior middle back Holly Milam was named tournament MVP and joined by junior setter Karley York and freshman outside hitter Valerie Valerian on the all-tournament team. Freshman libero Henrianna Ibarra earned best libero honors.
"[Milam's] done a really good job transitioning back into the middle, and you can tell she's really comfortable there," UNT coach Andrew Palileo said. "The game is easy for her in the middle, and we're a different team with her in the middle right now."
After the Mean Green (12-1) built an 8-3 lead in the first set, a string of six errors allowed the Tigers to knot the game at 11. North Texas answered with a 14-3 run to close the set, including 12 straight points. In that span, Milam posted three kills and a pair of blocks and Ibarra recorded a pair of aces. Milam's sixth kill secured set point.
"We came out more focused and with a lot more energy," Valerian said. "I think we really established that at the beginning."
The Mean Green rattled off an 18-3 run to close the second set, highlighted by 13 straight points. It was senior outside hitter Alexis Wright who led the team in kills during the run with three of her four kills. York recorded both of her aces during the streak.
In the final set, North Texas and Jackson State battled to a 5-all tie before the Mean Green scored seven straight points, highlighted by a pair of aces from freshman defensive specialist Andi Elley and a pair of kills by junior middle blocker Jordyn Williams. Freshman Miranda Youmans posted a pair of crucial kills to set up match point, which was earned on a kill by York.
North Texas begins Conference USA play at Southern Mississippi at 7 p.m. Friday.