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The TWU volleyball team has struggled to string together multiple wins throughout the season, largely due to inconsistent play from a young, yet athletic, squad.

TWU coach Jeff Huebner has said for weeks that the Pioneers were close to turning the corner. After competing with the league’s top teams in recent matches, TWU appeared to be on the cusp of a breakout performance.

Before last week, 43 days had passed since the Pioneers put together three consecutive wins.

On Saturday, that streak ended as the Pioneers rolled to their third straight victory after a 3-1 defeat of Texas A&M-Kingsville at Kitty Magee Arena.

“It’s been a different battle for us week-by-week, and we’ve had a ton of different people contribute,” Huebner said. “But it’s been clear from the beginning that when we want to be really good, then we’re really good. That’s what our staff has always believed in, and it’s nice to finally get three.”

During the win over Texas A&M-Kingsville, the Pioneers (12-10, 7-7 in LSC) displayed the ability to find open spots in the Javelinas’ defense.

TWU finished the afternoon hitting .240 and hit an impressive .529 in the third set. The Pioneers had four different people hit over .400 in the match.

Courtney Noel led the way against the Javelinas with 16 kills, capping off an outstanding weekend where the senior totaled 29 kills in the two wins over Texas A&M-Kingsville and Texas A&M-International. Since returning from injury on Oct. 8, Noel has been on an offensive tear.

“I think she [Noel] has really put together five or six matches in a row where she’s been really good,” Huebner said. “She’s hitting a really high efficiency, she’s demanding the ball and she’s doing some things we were accustomed to seeing her do last year. We’re pretty excited about the way she’s been developing.”

Now that TWU has discovered the momentum that eluded them throughout the season, Huebner said the Pioneers are focused on sustaining their late season run this weekend in West Texas.

The Pioneers travel to Lubbock Christian on Friday evening before facing off against No. 18 Angelo State on Saturday in a critical league match.

“For us, it comes down to defense and blocking,” Huebner said. “When we do those two things well, then we’re too tough to track with athletically. We’ve got two important matches coming up in Lubbock and San Angelo. We have a great opportunity in front of us to keep the momentum rolling and to push our conference record.”

Soccer: LSC regular season title chances fading after 3-0 loss to No. 8 Dallas Baptist

TWU coach Babak Abouzar and the Pioneers headed into last Saturday’s match against No. 8 Dallas Baptist eager to to knock off a top 10 team at Pioneer Soccer Park.

However, the match didn’t go as the Pioneers’ planned. DBU defeated TWU 3-0 behind a hat-trick performance from Delaney Schmidt to end the Pioneers’ five game winning streak.

“They’re ranked in the top 10 for a reason,” Abouzar said. “We made some mistakes that they did a great job of capitalizing on, and at the end of the day, they finished opportunities around the goal. You have to tip your hat to them, but I didn’t feel like we executed our game plan like we were capable of.”

The Pioneers created quality chances on the offensive end, but they couldn’t find the back of the net. TWU hit several posts while DBU goalkeeper Hope Koym, who has won LSC Goalkeeper of the Week twice this year, made several impressive saves to halt any chances for the Pioneers to get back in the game.

“We were just a play or two away from being able to put one in the net,” Abouzar said. “That was the biggest issue. This week, we’re definitely going to focus on finishing opportunities at the net.”

TWU (11-3, 7-2 in LSC) now sits in fifth place in the LSC standings and two games behind the top spot, which is occupied by St. Edward’s and DBU. The loss likely diminished any hope of TWU winning an LSC regular season title, but the Pioneers must continue to play well to improve their seed in the LSC conference tournament.

The Pioneers were scheduled to play Angelo State on Thursday. That game was postponed due to inclement weather. TWU will face St. Edwards on Saturday in another crucial conference match.

“We just have to learn that we can’t make those type of mistakes when we play teams at the level of DBU,” Abouzar said. “So we just have to move forward to Thursday’s game and make sure that we play sound soccer this weekend.”

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