The Commerce Journal
Texas A&M University-Commerce notched the crucial points when it mattered most, outlasting Incarnate Word 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 at the Field House Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Lions improve to 15-6 overall, the most wins for the program under head coach Craig Case, while improving to 6-5 in Lone Star Conference play.
A&M-Commerce continues to be led up front by senior middle blocker Rachel Robertson, who led all players with 12 kills, a .385 hitting percentage, three blocks and three digs while Ezon Onditi added 10 kills, including a handful down the stretch to help secure the victory.
Breanne Snyder added nine kills and a pair of blocks for A&M-Commerce with Kayla Bond notching seven kills and Chelsee Hudson adding five. Jordan Neal was solid once again, distributing 35 assists with nine digs and three kills while Michaela Spicer posted 22 digs defensively. Savanah Neal posted 14 digs as well, setting a new career-high.
In what coach Case labeled a near “must-win” match for A&M-Commerce, the Lions took control midway through the opening set, building a seven-point advantage at 21-14 and was serving for match point at 24-19. But in what would become a theme for the afternoon, Incarnate Word would rally, going on a 4-0 run to pull to within one at 24-23 before a kill by Bond sealed the opener 25-23.
Set two played out to be one of the most competitive of the season thus far for A&M-Commerce as Incarnate Word established a lead of its own, taking a 14-10 advantage. That would set up a point-for-point battle down the stretch as the set was tied seven times before A&M-Commerce finally reclaimed the lead at 23-22 off a kill from Neal. A Cardinal timeout did little to thwart the Lion offensive attack as a kill by Robertson and an Incarnate Word attack error gave the 25-22 victory to the Lions, completing the rally.
A&M-Commerce once again established a sizeable advantage in set three, leading by as many as six at 16-10 and again at 17-11. The Lions matched the Cardinals and were serving for match point at 24-19, a similar situation to what Incarnate Word was in last season. The Cardinals made the Lions sweat, however, posting another 4-0 run just as they did in the opening set to cut the gap to one at 24-23. But Onditi’s 10th kill of the match was a huge win, sealing the victory with a 25-23 Lion victory in the third.
With the victory, A&M-Commerce remains in sole possession of fifth-place in the Lone Star Conference standings as the 15 victories on the year is the most for the Lions under coach Case and their highest output since winning 25 in 2009. It also extended A&M-Commerce’s winning streak against Incarnate Word to three matches, pulling them to within one at 7-6 in the all-time series.
The Lions have been road warriors all year long, and they will have to assume that role one last time as A&M-Commerce now embarks on a three-match road trip, beginning Friday at Eastern New Mexico. The Lions then face nationally-ranked West Texas A&M on Saturday before taking on Abilene Christian in Abilene on Tuesday. Any wins the Lions pick up would be huge, as A&M-Commerce will then return home, playing five of their final six matches of the 2012 season at the Field House.