TSU volleyballers knock off Metro State; advance in playoffs

TSU Athletics
Kenya Alexander, No. 8, and Hailey Roberts, No. 2, put up a wall against Metro State Friday in the opening round of the NCAA regional playoffs. The TexAnns swept No. 20 Metro State and moved into the round of 32.

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The historical run for Tarleton State Volleyball will continue for the TexAnns, who made their debut in the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament with a sweep of No. 20 Metro State to advance to the Round of 32 tomorrow night.

Tarleton State (24-7, 10-6) entered the NCAA playoffs for the first time in school history as the No. 6 seed in the region after earning the automatic berth with its first-ever Lone Star Conference Tournament Championship last weekend in Canyon.

The TexAnns welcomed the big stage by dominating the first two sets and battling back to win an extra-point third set to sweep the No. 3 seed and No. 20 in the nation Metro State Roadrunners (23-7, 15-3) Friday afternoon.

"We were excited to come here and play," said 10th year head coach Mary Schindler. "We knew that Metro was a really good team and we were able to spread our offense around and keep them from running their right side, which is what they like to do. We served well, played good offense and defense and now we're going to regroup and prepare for the next match."

Tarleton came out swinging with an 8-3 run over the first 11 points to force an early timeout from Metro State.

After the roadrunners pushed back to cut the Tarleton lead to just 9-7, Jasmyne Brown landed a kill shot to start a 10-3 run for the TexAnns and push the advantage to 19-10. The TexAnns got to game-point at 24-17 before the roadrunners clawed back with five straight points. Hailey Roberts put a stop to the comeback attempt with her fifth kill shot of the set to put the TexAnns up 1-0 in the match.

Tarleton carried the momentum into the second set by jumping out to a 6-1 lead, beginning with a block from Kaitlyn White and Kenya Alexander and ending with a service ace from White.

Metro State pushed right back to pull within one at 7-6 before a Roadrunner error gave the TexAnns an 8-6 advantage and the serve back to Tarleton. The TexAnns scored seven of the next 10 points to lead 15-9 midway through the set.

The teams stayed tight over the next 17 points as Metro State inched closer at 21-18 before an Alexander kill and three Metro State miscues ended the set in Tarleton's favor at 25-20 and gave Tarleton a 2-0 cushion in the match.

"We're in the regional tournament so we know every team is strong," said fifth-year senior Katie Covell. "For us to come out and get some flex room on a team, especially a good team like Metro State, it's a big advantage for us. We're an aggressive team and we sometimes make aggressive mistakes so that flexibility with a two-set lead really helped."

Metro State would not go down quietly, however, as the Roadrunners took a quick lead and held it over the first 29 points of the set, through 15-14, before back-to-back errors from Metro gave the TexAnns their first lead of the set at 16-15.

The Roadrunners regained the lead and took it all the way down to 23-21 but the TexAnns battled all the way back, beginning with a block from Kelsey Raglin and Alexander, to force extra points.

Both teams had their chances down the stretch as the TexAnns and Roadrunners each had three different game-point chances but with Metro State leading 30-29, the LSC Defensive Player of the Year made an offensive statement.

Alexander blasted a kill shot to even up the set at 30-30 and then partnered with Chandler Gow on a block for a 31-30 advantage before putting the game away with her 10th kill of the match.

She would finish the game with 10 kills and eight blocks while Roberts led the team with 15 kills. Roberts (.357) and Alexander (.316) each finished with hitting percentages over .300 while Jasmyne Brown added five kills on eight attempts with no errors for a .625 hitting percentage.

The freshman setting tandem of Emily Medlin (20) and Chandler Gow (15) combined for 35 assists in the effort while Covell led the team with 13 digs.

Tarleton State will be one of 32 teams in the nation left competing for the National Championship when games begin tomorrow. The TexAnns will face the winner of Colorado Mines and Arkansas-Fort Smith at 5 p.m. MST / 6 p.m. CST at Brownson Arena in Grand Junction, Colorado.