The TWU soccer team has proven once this season, in a win over No. 6 Colorado School of Mines, that it can play up to the level of ranked teams at home. This week, the Pioneers aim to prove they can do the same thing on the road.
TWU travels to take on No. 15 Texas A&M-Commerce on Wednesday in its third game of Lone Star Conference play. The Pioneers (3-3-2, 0-1-1 LSC) enter the week searching for their first conference win.
"It definitely seems like in the past we've been able to get up for games like this," TWU coach Babak Abouzar said. "We try not to get too concerned with the rankings, though, and we try to play every game at 100 percent no matter who it is."
TWU earned a draw in the LSC opener against West Texas A&M last week after jumping out to a 1-0 lead early in the game on a goal by Lauren Bradford. West Texas answered with the equalizer just before halftime, and both defenses stepped up in the second half.
The Pioneers fell to Eastern New Mexico 2-0 on Sunday, as TWU tallied a season-low four shots. The Greyhounds scored early in both halves to put the game out of reach.
"Obviously those weren't the results we wanted," Abouzar said. "There were some lessons learned and some things we learned about ourselves we need to improve on. We played well against West Texas, but Sunday we faced some adversity against Eastern. Hopefully we have learned from that and can move forward."
In order to knock off the Lions, the team will turn to senior midfielder Chelsea Martin, who leads the conference with two game-winning goals. The Pioneers will need to find a way to produce shots against a Commerce defense that leads the conference in goals-against average (.537) and save percentage (.886).
TWU is still looking for its first road win, as the team sits 0-3-1 away from home through eight games.
"Hopefully with the Commerce game being right down the road, it's not too much of an outside routine we're not used to," Abouzar said. "I feel this is a game the girls want and feel they can get, but if we want it we're going to have to go out and take it. Commerce isn't going to give us anything, but this is a game we can win."
After tonight's game, the team will return to action Friday in Denton for the first time since Sept. 14 when they take on Midwestern State. The Pioneers are undefeated at home at 3-0-1.
Volleyball hits the road in LSC play
After jumping out to a 2-1 record in LSC play, TWU fell to Texas A&M-Kingsville in its first road match of the conference schedule Friday. That was the first of a four-match road swing for the Pioneers, as TWU will travel to take on Midwestern State and Cameron this weekend.
Like the soccer team, the volleyball squad will be looking to log its first road win in conference play.
"We learned a little bit about road culture in the Lone Star," TWU coach Jeff Huebner said. "I think we're making some pretty good strides, but it was nice that we only had to play one match on the road last week to learn that. I'm excited about the opportunity we have to go on the road this weekend and demonstrate a pretty solid learning curve."
While the Pioneers failed to come out with a win against Kingsville, the team managed to post its highest attacking percentage of the season (.281). That gives Huebner and company a lot of confidence heading into the weekend.
In order to build on that number, TWU will need another big performance from Briley Cole-Lewis and Miri Shade, who combined for 32 kills in the loss. The supporting cast of Haley Collins and Courtney Noel added nine kills apiece.
"We played, in a lot of ways, well enough to win the match," Huebner said. "We saw a lot of really, really good things from an attacking perspective. I think we've got really nice things going for us."
With the offense getting into a rhythm, the Pioneers will focus more on improving blocking at the net and on serve-receive over the next few days. Midwestern State's Kristin Silva leads the conference in aces per set (.50) while Addison Semer ranks third in attack percentage (.335).
After taking on MSU, the Pioneers will play Cameron on Saturday before closing the road stretch against Dallas Baptist on Tuesday.
"It's going to come down to which team is more stubborn and how we adjust to the road culture," Huebner said. "It's just really important for us to be intentional and disciplined. If we can do that, we have a chance to have a good weekend."