It was a knockdown, drag-out fight in Kitty Magee Arena Saturday with TWU on the losing end of a five-setter to UT Permian Basin, 18-25, 25-18, 25-20, 18-25, 15-13.
Taking an early lead, the Pioneers (9-9, 5-3 Lone Star) kept at the attack, taking a six-point run featuring an ace from Erin Jones and two kills by Addison Mulroney. Trixie Oche continued to perform well for TWU, leading the charge and extending the Pioneers’ lead to 13 points before the Falcons (14-3, 6-2 LSC) were able to make some defensive adjustments and shrink the gap. A final kill by Caroline Noel ended the set 25-18 for TWU.
“Similar to this season, when we’re good we’re really good, but when we struggle we can put ourselves in some tough spots,” coach Jeff Huebner said. “Our kids were really resilient today.”
The teams were neck-and-neck through most of the second, with the Pioneers mostly taking advantage of Falcon errors. Another ace from Jones finally gave TWU a tenuous lead, but UTPB once again pulled ahead, maintaining a lead until finishing the set, 25-18.
Katy Ranes started the third set by serving up back-to-back aces in a five-point Pioneer run, but Permian Basin tied the score back up at 7-7, forcing both teams to rally. A Pioneer ball-handling error allowed the Falcons to pull ahead. The set continued to be a back-and-forth battle with neither squad managing to take a significant lead until the Pioneers began to rack up errors, leading to the Falcons taking the third frame, 25-20.
The Pioneers trailed much of the fourth set before Tabitha Spray kicked off a seven-point service run that included three aces, bringing TWU to set point with an eight-point lead. Courtney Noel sent one final kill past the Falcons’ defense to win the set, 25-18.
Elizabeth Ugbaja was a dominating force for TWU in the fifth, notching five kills in the short set. The Falcons were able to claw their way back to a tie at 10-10, converting that momentum to a 15-14 victory.
TWU hits the road to compete at Texas A&M-Commerce on Friday in another Lone Star Conference matchup.