Tarleton State (23-8) extended its 2012 volleyball campaign in thrilling fashion Thursday, knocking off Texas A&M-Kingsville (17-14) in a five-set marathon to begin the quarterfinal round of the Lone Star Conference Championship at the Junnell Center in San Angelo
A kill by junior right side hitter Stacie Murrah gave the TexAnns match point in the back-and-forth short set, and an attack error by A&M-Kingsville's Kelsey Washington ended it, sending the TexAnns on to the tournament semifinals against West Texas A&M or Abilene Christian at 5 p.m. Friday.
Tarleton trailed by as many as four in the decisive fifth before a Javelina attack error began a big TexAnn rally. Kelsey Raglin followed the miscue with a Tarleton kill, and after an A&M-Kingsville timeout, Murrah landed a kill to pull her team within one at 9-8. Another Javelina error evened the score before Tarleton fell behind again.
A kill by Dedra Brown gave A&M-Kingsville a one-point edge before LSC Defensive Player of the Year Nikki McNorton committed a Tarleton error to put the Javs up 11-9. She quickly made up for the error with a kill, and Katie Covell followed with another kill to make it 11-11. Washington and McNorton traded kills to make it 12-12, before a Javelina attack error and another Washington kill shot tied it at 13-13.
Murrah, a first-team All-LSC selection, led Tarleton with 14 kills and seven block assists while McNorton posted 12 kills, three solo blocks and five block assists. Danielle Barker tallied 27 assists and Emily Klein and Kelsey Raglin had 26 digs and 24, respectively. Katie Covell had 18 digs and eight kills.
Brown posted an impressive 24 kills for A&M-Kingsville while Washington had 16 kills, 20 digs and six blocks. Sara Fountain amassed 58 assists and Kalinda Graves racked up 36 digs.
The Javelinas scored three straight points to jump ahead 22-20 in the fourth set. Bethany Friesenhahn landed a kill to make it 24-22 before Tarleton's Umbel committed an attack error that gave the Javs the set and forced the decisive fifth game.
Down a set and trailing the second 14-10, Tarleton took advantage of six A&M-Kingsville errors in a seven-point span to jump ahead 17-15. The TexAnns never trailed again in the set. Consecutive kills by McNorton, Raglin and Murrah pulled Tarleton even at 21-21 in the third, and Murrah landed back-to-back kills moments later to put Tarleton up 24-23. Covell then struck for the winning kill and a one-set Tarleton advantage. The first set was over quickly thanks to a 5-0 Javelina run early and two 3-0 pushes later in the set.