FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Tennessee State University volleyball team wrapped up the Arkansas Invitational with two tough losses on Saturday.
The Tigers (0-3) dropped their matches to Michigan (2-0) and Stephen F. Austin (1-2) in straight sets. TSU was two points away from winning the third set of the Ladyjacks’ match, but fell just short.
“The fight we had in that last match was big,” head coach Kathy Roulhac. “We proved to ourselves that the deficit doesn’t matter, we can comeback.”
Senior Naomi Wells notched her second-straight double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs against the Wolverines. She added eight kills and 14 digs in the final match against SFA. Fellow senior Ileanushka Maldonado led the team on defense with 13 digs against UM and freshman Samantha Beltran built on her strong debut at Arkansas with 27 assists in game one and 29 in game two.
“She really took over after the first match,” coach Roulhac on Beltran. “She is our setter moving forward and I think we are poised for great things with her.”
Senior Taylor Swayzer led the Tigers in kills during the third game of the tournament, notching 10 on the contest. Adding a block assist helped her lead the team in points (10.5). Sophomore Arijana Anderson had a good third match, as well, with nine kills, an assist, and a dig.
Down 22-18 in the third set of the SFA match, Wells put the Tigers on her shoulders getting three kills and two block assists to bring the score to 24-23. A late kill by the Ladyjacks, however, sealed the deal. Wells had 6 of TSU’s 11 total kills in the third set of the final match. Beltran added to the effort with 10 assists in that set showing that the Tigers have a lot of heart to come back from a big deficit.
TSU will be in action Friday Sep. 5 and Saturday Sep. 6 in Louisville for the Active Ankle Challenge. On the weekend slate for the Tigers are two American Athletic Conference teams in Louisville and Cincinnati as well as Appalachian State.
“We’re really going to work hard at minimalizing mistakes. Unforced errors really hurt us and that’s something we need to erase. We have all these big time opponents in the early going so we can see both what we are made of and where we need to improve. You don’t get better by playing below your level.”
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