STEPHENVILLE - A burst of four consecutive game-five points by Tarleton State proved to be the difference here tonight, as the TexAnns edged Southern Arkansas for a 3-2 win in their 2007 home opener.

The final game was a nail biter with Tarleton leading 8-6, but a kill by Emily Richardson began the run that sealed the deal for the TexAnns. Three points later, SAU committed a hitting error, and Tarleton was in command, 12-6.

The Muleriders pulled to within two points on three occasions down the stretch, but a thunderous kill by Missy Castro put the finishing touches on the victory.

Southern Arkansas dominated game one, 30-18, but Tarleton responded with wins in games two and three.

Castro's jump serves and attacks on the net, paired with the hitting of Alisha Bourgo, Shay Gracy and Rachel Wolf, paved the way as the TexAnns took both games two and three by identical 30-26 scores.

The Muleriders came back in the fourth set, overcoming an early 8-3 deficit to win 30-25, after the score was tied nine times.

The victory improved the TexAnns' record to 5-7, and served as the final tune-up before Lone Star Conference play begins.

Tarleton is set to host Eastern New Mexico at 7 p.m. Thursday in its first LSC battle. It will be autograph night in Wisdom Gym South, with players and coaches signing photos and memorabilia after the match. The TexAnns then host national-power West Texas A&M at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Brad Keith is the sports editor for the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241, or by e-mail at