In its third trip to the NCAA Division II regional tournament, TWU had a Lone Star Conference rival standing between it and the semifinals, and Angelo State defeated the Pioneers for the third time in four meetings this season with a 25-13, 25-18, 25-15 sweep Thursday in Canyon.
The second-seeded Rambelles (24-9) jumped on the seventh-seeded Pioneers out of the gate, with TWU committing several errors that helped Angelo State claim a 7-0 advantage in the first set. The Pioneers’ offensive efficiency suffered greatly in the first set to the tune of a minus-.125 hitting percentage, compared with the Bells’ match-high .355 hitting percentage.
“Overall we didn’t have a good match,” TWU coach Shelly Barberee said. “From the very first point, they [the Rambelles] were playing very relaxed. They knew everything we were going to do. We tensed up and we couldn’t get back in our rhythm.
“The [TWU] seniors wanted to have a good game because they didn’t want to go out on a game we know we could have won. Some of them didn’t have good games. From the first point to the last, we didn’t have our game.”
TWU (22-11) started the second set off on a better note, taking a 7-2 lead. With the score 11-7 TWU, the Rambelles strung together a 12-1 run that gave them a set-high seven-point advantage at 20-13. TWU rallied back to within 21-18, but the Belles closed on a 4-0 run.
“It’s one of the worst attacking matches that we’ve had in a while,” Barberee said. “We were kind of sluggish on our feet, and that’s why we weren’t getting blocks. We weren’t passing it over and we weren’t moving it around really well. We tried to come back and then we would make another error. I hate that it ended that way for the seniors after such a successful season.”
With TWU on the brink of elimination, it played the third set tightly to a 12-all tie, but the Rambelles stung the Pioneers with a backbreaking 6-0 run that helped Angelo State close out the match and advance to the regional semifinals.
One of the top blocking teams in the nation, TWU struggled to show its normal blocking prowess and managed just five blocks compared with the Belles’ nine, something Barberee chalked up to Pioneer errors.
“We had a lot of errors and we beat ourselves in some aspects of the game — not only offensively, but on the blocks,” Barberee said. “Every time they [the Rambelles] would hit it, it would go off our hands and out of bounds. Volleyball is a game of who makes less errors.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.