After falling to Texas A&M-Kingsville in five sets Friday, the TWU Pioneers had redemption on their minds when they hosted Angelo State at Kitty Magee Arena on Tuesday.
The No. 10 Rambelles also were searching for a bounce-back victory after losing to West Texas A&M, but it was the Pioneers who atoned for their loss, handing Angelo State its first sweep of the season with a 25-18, 25-21, 25-17 TWU victory.
“I think they played the No. 1 team in the nation to five [sets], and here we are beating them in three and it was a clean win,” TWU coach Shelly Barberee said. “It wasn’t too awfully close. We played amazing.”
Despite losing to A&M-Kingsville in five sets and absorbing its first Lone Star Conference loss of the season, Barberee had her team focused on the team up next.
“You have your ups and downs to the season,” Barberee said. “We had a pretty bad game on Friday and they had a pretty bad game on Saturday. We talked about redemption all weekend and all week. There are going to be bumps in the road, but we had to forget about that and move forward.”
In the first set, the Pioneers (12-5, 4-1 LSC) got the first punch in as they won five of six points to take an 8-4 lead. That run forced the Rambelles, who had a hitting percentage of 0.000 with 12 errors and 12 kills, to take a timeout, but TWU’s net defense wouldn’t let them settle in. The Pioneers stacked three consecutive blocks to extend their lead to 11-4.
The Rambelles (11-4, 4-2) fought back to 15-12, but TWU responded with four straight points to take a 19-12 lead and finished out the set with kills from senior Marcela Alves and sophomore outside hitter Torie Talkington.
“We practiced very hard every day,” Alves said. “Last game wasn’t our game. Tonight was our game. That’s why we practice three hours a day and kill ourselves on the court. We practiced our block every day, and we specifically practiced for this team.”
The second set didn’t come as easily for the Pioneers, as their offense had trouble with its accuracy. Three straight misses by TWU gave Angelo State a 7-3 advantage, but TWU stormed back to tie it at 15 and closed out the set with kills from Chloe’ Tate and Josie Santos.
Santos attributed the Pioneers’ calm demeanor that helped them come back in the second set to their confidence in each other.
“Us playing as a team is what helped us when we were behind, and it got us momentum,” Santos said. “We look at each other and we know that we have each other’s backs.”
With the third set tied at 8, the Pioneers took control by winning nine of the next 12 points. Santos’ three straight kills effectively put the decisive set out of reach.
“Josie is always an aggressive hitter, and I didn’t want her to stop being an aggressive hitter, but they were taking our setter out a lot,” Barberee said. “So when Jackie was setting our outside, it was a much higher set. I told her that you have to wait on that ball and get three or four more kills. She waited on them and put them away.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.