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Notebook: TWU soccer looks to end regular season on high note

After the team's most productive week in the Lone Star Conference this year, TWU has just two games left on the regular-season soccer schedule before the LSC tournament.

The Pioneers earned a 1-1 tie against Eastern New Mexico on Friday and knocked off West Texas A&M 3-2 in a thrilling overtime finish Sunday to move into a tie with Eastern for fifth place.

The win over West Texas came on senior day, and TWU was able to send Chelsea Martin and Jackie Bucy off with a victory in their final home game.

"It was huge," TWU coach Babak Abouzar said. "Both Chelsea and Jackie have done a lot for our program with their leadership on and off the field. It meant a lot for them to get that win on senior day, and our girls were excited to get that for them as well."

The Pioneers are looking to carry the momentum from that win into this weekend, when the team travels to Angelo State and Texas-Permian Basin.

ASU sits atop the LSC with one loss in conference play, and the Belles clinched at least a share of the regular-season title with a 3-2 win over No. 11 Midwestern State last week.

UTPB is on the opposite end of the spectrum, as the Falcons have just one conference win to their name and have lost seven straight games.

TWU is 0-5-1 on the road this season but has led at least once in four of those matches. Playing well away from Denton this weekend will be important as the team gears up for the LSC tournament, which is set to take place Nov. 1-5.

"We feel like we match up really well with every team in the conference right now," Abouzar said. "But these games are more about building that confidence up a notch and getting some results that will help us moving forward into the postseason."

Volleyball team looks to bounce back from tough losses

The TWU volleyball team went 1-2 last week with losses to No. 13 Tarleton State and No. 22 Angelo State, but still managed to show dramatic improvement from the beginning of the year.

Four of the six sets lost were decided by three points or fewer, and the Pioneers' ability to compete at a high level on the road against two of the top teams in the LSC was encouraging for coach Jeff Huebner.

"We made some really great adjustments and made some good decisions with the volleyball," Huebner said. "It's just those individual sets eluded us. I think we had a chance to win the majority of those sets, so I was proud of the effort our kids made. Those are two tough places to play."

Now TWU (10-12, 7-6 LSC), which sits sixth in the standings, has a chance to climb back up the ladder. The Pioneers traveled to Texas A&M-Commerce (14-9, 9-4) on Tuesday night and will host Texas A&M-Kingsville (16-9, 8-5) on Friday.

TWU also has a nonconference home doubleheader Saturday against Southeastern Oklahoma State and Arkansas-Monticello.

"First we have to go to Commerce and do a good job there," Huebner said. "It's a game where we can help ourselves a good chunk in the conference standings. Then we have Kingsville, and it'll be nice to get them at home while we're healthy. We'll obviously spend the majority of our time focusing on the conference opponents."

The Pioneers continue to thrive behind the play of sophomore setter Katy Ranes, who leads the conference with an average of 10.84 assists per set. Senior Haley Collins ranks second in blocks per set (1.12), sophomore Bailey French sits third in digs per set (4.91) and senior Miri Shade is third in kills per set (3.28).

Those four will be key pieces down the stretch as TWU aims to improve its seeding in the conference tournament, which will take place Nov. 16-18. The Pioneers play six of their last eight matches at home, where the team is 5-1 this year.

"We get through this weekend and then we've played the top sequence of the conference," Huebner said. "Everything else from here on out is just us having to do our job. We have put ourselves in a position to be successful, and now we just need to win the matches we're supposed to win."