The school record for conference victories hangs in the balance this weekend when the TWU volleyball team closes the regular season with two home matches.
The Pioneers tied the record of 14 league wins last week and have the opportunity to establish a new mark Friday when they face off against Tarleton State at 7 p.m. at Kitty Magee Arena. TWU closes the season at 2 p.m. Saturday against Angelo State.
The Pioneers (21-6, 14-4 Lone Star) climbed into third place in the conference standings last week by defeating Texas A&M-Commerce and Abilene Christian. Including a nonconference win over St. Edward’s on Thursday, the Pioneers have a six-match winning streak.
The 14 LSC victories equals the school mark set in 1996 when the Pioneers finished with a 14-4 conference mark.
“The girls want to break the school record,” head coach Shelly Barberee said. “That’s a big feat. Everybody wants to be part of a school record. And with the reduction of the number of conference teams next year, that feat is going to be hard to reach.”
Abilene Christian is leaving the LSC to move up to NCAA Division I.
This weekend’s matches are important for the Pioneers for additional reasons. A win over fourth-place Tarleton State would all but lock up the No. 3 seed in the LSC tournament, scheduled for Nov. 15-17. Angelo State is in first place and likely will serve as tournament host.
“This is going to be a tough weekend,” Barberee said. “These are two tough teams we’re facing. The bonus is that we’re at home and we’ve done well at home this year.”
TWU to recognize seniors
The team’s four seniors — Viktorija Jablonska, Erin Harman, Leslye Richmond and Hayley Summers — will be recognized in a ceremony prior to Saturday’s match. TWU also will acknowledge players’ parents in attendance.
Jablonska nabs honor
Jablonska, on Tuesday, was named the LSC’s Offensive Player of the Week for Oct. 29-Nov. 5. The right-side hitter earned the honor for the third time this season and the seventh in her career.
Jablonska led TWU with 38 kills and 46 1/2 points in three wins last week. She averaged 3.80 kills per set while posting a .403 hitting percentage. Jablonska added 14 assists, five aces, 13 digs and five blocks.
Team to unveil new look
Head coach Beth Jillson will unveil her new-look Pioneers for an exhibition game against Hardin-Simmons at 7 p.m. Thursday at Kitty Magee Arena.
TWU returns only three players from last year’s 13-14 team that advanced to the Lone Star Conference tournament for the third consecutive year. The 2012-13 roster features seven newcomers, including six Division I transfers, Ria Pateraki (Lamar), Amanda Mason (Tulsa), Rachel Schlosser (UTSA), Barbara-Scott Kolb (UNT), Kaitlyn Waller (Southeastern Louisiana), and Mary Kovtun (Lamar).
Junior guard Tabbatha Thurmond, who appeared in 26 games last season and was second on the team in 3-pointers (18) and third in assists (44), averaged 7.9 points to lead the list of returning letter winners. Also back are junior guard Taylor Swift (19 games, 2.0 points per game) and sophomore guard Toree Mason (14 games, 3.4 points).
The top newcomers appear to be 5-foot-11 junior forward Amanda Mason, a transfer from Tulsa; 6-1 sophomore forward Ria Pateraki from Lamar; and 5-6 sophomore guard Barbara Scott-Kolb, who played in 13 games for North Texas last season.
TWU opens the regular season at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Ouachita Baptist.
Wispell lone Pioneer on all-tournament team
Senior defender Brittany Wispell was TWU’s lone representative on the Lone Star all-tournament team announced Sunday following the championship game.
Wispell joined six other Pioneers honored last week. Prior to the start of the tournament, senior forward Brittany Martin was named first-team all-conference, freshman defender Sara Deeb earned second-team recognition, and Katy Black, Lindsey Sisco, Erin Bolinger and Haleigh Wanzer received honorable mention.
The Pioneers (7-10-2) were eliminated in the first round with a 1-0 loss to Angelo State.