Texans split season-opening twin bill in Miami with four-set win over FIU

TSU Sports Information

MIAMI, Fla. – Tarleton split its season-opening doubleheader with a pair of Miami-based opponents by falling to Miami (FL) in the opener and knocking off tournament host FIU in their final Florida showing.

Match 1: Miami 3, Tarleton 0

Tarleton stood toe-to-toe with the ACC's Miami (FL) in the season opener but suffered a loss in straight sets 25-23, 25-18, 25-23 Friday at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center in Miami, Fla.

After a Miami service error scored the first point of the season for the Texans, Lauren Kersey and Lorin McNeil landed back-to-back kills to give Tarleton an early 3-1 lead. The teams would trade points throughout the opening set with neither team leading by more than three with the Hurricanes up 20-17 before three straight points from Kersey, McNeil and Trinity Vinzant tied it up at 20-20 and forced Miami into a timeout.

Lorin McNeil

Out of the break, the teams traded the next six points to even things at 23-23 before Miami scored two straight to take the set.

In the second set, Tarleton took a slim lead early and things were even through the 9-9 point but Miami broke the tie with a kill that started a 4-0 run for the Canes. Miami led the rest of the way before taking the second set 25-18.

Miami jumped out to a big lead early in the third set, but the Texans pushed right back.

After falling behind 7-3, Lauren Kersey landed a kill shot that started a 9-5 Tarleton run to tie things up at 12-12. The teams traded the next six points to stay tied through 15-15, but Miami pulled away with nine of the next 12 points to go to match point at 24-18.

Tarleton would not go quietly, however, as freshman Megan Haynes landed a kill to start a 5-0 Tarleton run to pull within one at 24-23. Tarleton appeared to tie the match at 24-24 with a Kersey kill, but Miami challenged the call. The Hurricanes won the challenge and the match.

Kersey led the team with 12 kills and all players with 14.5 total points for the match, while she and Lorin McNeil each tallied five blocks. Kayla Brannon dished out a team-high 19 assists while Ana Costas had 16 digs.

• Match 2: Tarleton 3, FIU 1

Tarleton was dominant defensively at the net and erased a set one deficit to comeback and defeat Florida International in four sets Friday afternoon.

McNeil got the scoring started in the second match with a kill shot for the first point of the match. Tarleton would go on to capitalize on the first point with a 7-2 run to force the Texans into a timeout.

Out of the break, the Panthers clawed back and the match was a tight one as late as 19-16 with Tarleton on top. However, FIU went on to score seven in a row to take a 23-19 lead and ­three points later – took the opening set 25-20.

Tarleton answered the call in set two with their first game victory of the season.

Lauren Kersey got the scoring started with a kill from the right side to get Tarleton on the board and start a 4-1 scoring surge. The lead allowed Tarleton to withstand short FIU runs and keep the game within one through of the set.

With FIU leading 18-17 late, the Panthers committed four consecutive errors to give the Texans a 21-18 lead. After FIU took two of the next three points, Tarleton won the set on three straight miscues from FIU.

The third set saw FIU take control early on with a 20-15 lead – but the Texans kicked things into another gear. Tarleton scored three straight before a kill from FIU made it 21-18. Then the Texans tacked on another three unanswered on an error, Kersey kill and McNeil block to tie the match at 21-21.

The Panthers took a one-point lead on a block and Tarleton responded to the FIU one with another run of Tarleton three – kills from Carmen Kinsey and McNeil and a tandem block from Kersey and McNeil – to head into set point at 24-22. Two points later, a service error gave Tarleton the set 25-23.

Tarleton flat out dominated the fourth set en route to their first win of the season.

The Texans scored eight of the first 10 points to take an 8-2 lead with three of them being denials at the net. The Panthers pulled as close as three, but Elise Smith landed a kill shot to start a 10-3 Texan run. The Panthers failed to score consecutive points during that span while the Texans extended their lead to 21-11.

After FIU's final two points of the match, Tarleton scored four unanswered to win 25-13.

The Texan net defense was dominant in the match. McNeil led the team with seven blocks while Kersey (4), Elise Smith (4), Trinity Vinzant (2) and Amber Strange (1) combined to give the Texans 11.0 blocks for the match and hold the Panthers to a .100 hit percentage, including a (-)0.128 mark in the fourth set.

Kersey led the team with 14 kills while Brannon dished out 31 assists. Ana Costas led the way with 21 digs while Emma Halcomb (12) and Vinzant (11) cracked double digits in the dig column as well.

Tarleton return home for a Wednesday night bout with Eastern Washington at 6 p.m. in Wisdom Gym.