Tarleton State answered everything TWU could throw at it Friday night at Kitty Magee Arena. After battling back from two sets down, the Pioneers stumbled to a 25-22, 25-20, 24-26, 21-25, 15-6 loss to the TexAnns.
TWU swapped places with Tarleton in the Lone Star Conference standings, dropping into fourth place.
“For some reason we came out tense and just weren’t ourselves,” TWU coach Shelly Barberee said. “After we took the break after the second set, we played better. But by then the momentum was on their side. We just made too many mistakes.”
The Pioneers (21-7, 14-5 LSC) rallied after dropping the first two sets and tied the match with victories in the third and fourth sets. But the comeback fell short as the TexAnns (21-8, 14-5) jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the deciding set and never looked back.
Hitter Viktorija Jablonska and middle blocker Chloe’ Tate combined for 31 of the Pioneers’ 52 kills, and setter Kayla Rivero had a double-double with 25 assists and 16 digs.
TWU avoided being shut out by outscoring Tarleton 5-1 in the final moments of the third set to post the 26-24 victory. Jablonska had a dink point to get the Pioneers within 23-22 before sealing the win with a vicious kill.
In the fourth set, Tate and blocker Marcela Alves sparked the Pioneers to a four-point victory. TWU took the lead at 12-11 and never lost it.
The TexAnns used a furious rally to take the opening set, scoring nine of the final 10 points. The Pioneers matched their biggest lead in the set by scrapping to a 21-16 lead before Tarleton State rallied.
In set two, the teams battled hard until it was tied at 16. Tarleton built a 23-17 advantage before TWU pulled to within 24-20 and then dropped the final point.
TWU plays its final match of the regular season at 2 p.m. today when it plays host to first-place and ninth-ranked Angelo State.