AND JUNCTION, Colo. - Tarleton State's record-setting season came to an end in the semifinal round of the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament Saturday night with a four-set loss to Arkansas-Fort Smith.
This brings to an end Tarleton State's season of firsts - first LSC Tournament Championship, first trip to the NCAA regional tournament and first win in an NCAA regional game following yesterday's sweep of No. 20 Metro State in the quarterfinals.
Tarleton State opened the semifinals in the same way it ended the quarterfinals - a Kenya Alexander kill shot.
The lead wouldn't hold as the Lady Lions scored 12 of the next 20 points to take a 12-9 lead and force Tarleton State into a timeout. The TexAnns answered out of the break with seven of the next nine points to lead 16-14.
After Fort Smith battled back to take another lead at 22-19, Kaitlyn White landed a kill shot to start a 6-2 Tarleton run for a 25-24 advantage heading into extra points. After UAFS evened it up at 25-25, Tarleton got a block from Hailey Roberts and Jasmyne Brown and a game-winning service ace from Roberts to claim the opening set 27-25.
Tarleton never led in the second set and, after pulling within one at 13-14, went the remainder of the set scoring consecutive points only once as the Lady Lions won the set 25-20 and evened the match at 1-1.
Fort Smith carried the momentum into the third set by jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead before White ended the run with a kill and put Tarleton on the board. The TexAnns battled back to pull within one at 6-7 and again within two at 15-17 before the Lady Lions scored eight of the final 12 points to take the third set and a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Tarleton opened the fourth set with an Alexander and White block but Fort Smith answered right back with a 9-3 run to take control of the game after the first 13 points.
The TexAnns tied it once at 10-10 and pulled within one on multiple occasions but couldn't take the lead as Fort Smith went on to claim the set 25-21 and the match 3-1, ending Tarleton's season with a record of 24-8 with a new-school record of wins in a season by topping the previous record of 23.
Tarleton hit .171 as a team for the match but the Lady Lions landed 61 kills to just 20 errors for a percentage of .289, including a .421 percentage in the momentum-shifting second match.
Roberts ended the game with 17 kills, six digs and five blocks while Kelsey Raglin added eight kills and White and Jasmyne Brown each landed seven kills from the middle. The freshman setting tandem of Emily Medlin (22) and Chandler Gow (21) combined for 43 assists while Katie Covell led the team with 16 digs.
This game also marks the final game in the purple and white for Tarleton's four seniors - Ashley Rine, White, Brown and Covell, who is a fifth-year senior. Covell ends her career third on the school's all-time digs list with 1,516 in her illustrious career and is one of just three TexAnns in school history to eclipse the 1,500-dig mark.