Comeback victories are never easy and sometimes tough to explain. But head coach Shelly Barberee can point to several factors involved in the Pioneers' five-set conference win over Abilene Christian on Saturday.
There was the total team effort. And the improved, consistent play certainly helped. Oh yeah, there was "the talk." Shelly Barberee
"We just can't seem to win easy," said Barberee. "But it was a great comeback against a really good team."
After dropping the first two sets, TWU came out of the intermission and reeled off three straight wins, including a hard-fought 17-15 victory in the game-deciding fifth set.
"We haven't been consistent in our play all year, but in those three wins we were consistent and that's really encouraging," Barberee said. "And we had a big talk between the second and third sets. We came out and it was like we were a totally different team.
"We stopped questioning ourselves and just played," she added. "Everybody we had played and contributed. It was a total team effort."
The win was just the second of the season for the Pioneers (2-7), but it improves the team to 2-3 in Lone Star Conference play.
"It's another step in the right direction," Barberee said. "It was a great win."
TWU returns to the road this week with visits to Texas A&M-Kingsville (Thursday) and Incarnate Word (Saturday).
Missed opportunities continue for Pioneers
Missed scoring opportunities continued to haunt the Pioneers soccer team last weekend in a pair of home losses that opened Lone Star Conference play.
On Friday, in a game shortened due to lightning, the Pioneers outshot Eastern New Mexico by an 8-2 margin in the opening half but couldn't score. Eastern scored its only goal with about 15 minutes left in regulation and officials stopped the game seven minutes later, leaving the Pioneers with a 1-0 defeat.
Then on Sunday, the Pioneers outshot West Texas A&M 13-2 in the second half but couldn't overcome the three-goal first half by the Buffs and suffered a disappointing 3-1 loss. Fleur Benatar
"It's very frustrating," head coach Fleur Benatar said. "We've had our chances. I don't know why we're not scoring. We've had some near misses and we have played against some good goalkeepers. Our shots probably aren't as good as they could be, but the opportunities are there."
The Pioneers (0-4-2) have been outscored by a 14-3 margin this season, the bulk of the opponents' goals coming in losses to nationally-ranked Central Missouri (5-0) and St. Edward's (3-0) earlier this month.
TWU begins the longest road stretch of its season this week with LSC games at Incarnate Word (Friday) and Angelo State (Sunday) followed by two more road trips to Abilene Christian (Sept. 30) and Midwestern State (Oct. 2).
Coach switching to three-player lineup
After experimenting with a four-player defensive line through the season's first six games, head coach Fleur Benatar plans to switch back to a three-player lineup in an effort to help strengthen the Pioneers' defensive play.
"We've got to clean up our back play," said Benatar. "We're going back to man-marking, which is more physical and means more responsibility for the players. We had a four-player defensive line and it wasn't working. It'll be the same group of players, we're just rearranging who's out there."
Benatar coached the three-player line in the past but opted to add a fourth player this season.
She's tried the old three-player scheme at times in a couple of games this year and believes that her experienced players should be able to get comfortable with the new attack quickly.
Ring ceremony not likely to impress one Broncho
At next week's ring ceremony recognizing the Pioneers' 2010-11 Lone Star Conference basketball championship, to be held during the intermission at Wednesday's TWU-Central Oklahoma volleyball match, there'll be one player in uniform definitely not interested in the festivities.
In March, TWU defeated UCO, 74-73, to capture its first LSC basketball title. And the starting center for UCO in that game was Alex Richardson, who currently is an outside hitter for the Broncho volleyball team. It was Richardson who missed the game's final shot at the buzzer, a basket that could have spoiled the title-winning shot the Pioneers connected on just seconds earlier.
TWU athletes, coaches and staff will receive their rings in a ceremony during the break between the second and third matches of the volleyball game. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Kitty Magee Arena.