Top-Ranked UT-Brownsville Volleyball Wins A Thriller In Home Opener

Intensity. Drama. Emotions.

Pick the adjective, and that could summarize UTB/TSC's 3-2 victory over Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Friday night at the Manuel Garza B. Gymnasium, where all 508 seats were taken and dozens more were standing.

It was the matchup between the two teams in the Tachikara-NAIA Coaches' Top 25 poll, pitting the No. 1 Scorpions and the No. 4 Eagles that was the highlight of the Scorpion Invitational Tournament. Tournament Web Page

The Scorpions' victory by scores of 25-19, 27-29, 19-25, 25-17, 15-10 was a roller coaster of momentum throughout the match. The screaming crowd was so loud at times that one could not hear the person seated next to them.

After winning the first set, the Scorpions were one point away from making the match 2-0 in the second set, leading 24-21. But UTB/TSC could not close out ERAU, which came back to tie the match and send it past the 25-point mark. The Eagles came back and won the set, 29-27, to tie the match 1-1.

"It took us a little bit to bounce back," Scorpion head coach Todd Lowery said. "The girls came out in Game 4 and showed they really wanted to fight. We went from being a good team to a great team tonight. When you have a great team you have to overcome some challenges."

ERAU was dominating in the early going of the third set, 15-6, before Scorpion head coach Todd Lowery called time out. UTB/TSC rallied to cut the lead to 18-15 but the Eagles held on for a 25-19 win.

The Scorpions controlled the fourth set in a 25-19 win, setting the stage for the drama in the fifth set.

"The crowd helped us a lot all night," Lowery said. "The crowd really got into it when we made the turn at 8-7 and kept the girls going. Anytime you get 600 people in a small gym in a tight match, it helps the girls. It definitely was a big advantage to be playing that match at home tonight."

ERAU tied the game, 8-8, before the Scorpions went on a six-point run behind the serving of Amber Brooks, to make it 14-8. After two ERAU points, Ana Guerra's kill wrapped up the victory.

UTB/TSC had 15 team blocks and a .222 attack percentage, while ERAU had eight team blocks and a .089 attack percentage.

Guerra and Danica Markovic were huge at the net. Guerra had 17 kills in 27 swings with only three errors for a .519 hitting percentage. She added three solo blocks and four assisted blocks. Markovic had 19 kills on 54 attacks with seven errors, and added 18 digs.

Amber Brooks had a season-high 56 assists and 10 digs, and libero Paula Barros led the back-row defense with 31 digs.

Vanja Joksic , who had seven kills, had four solo and three assisted blocks. Katharina Nobel, who had nine kills, had five assisted blocks.

UTB/TSC continues play in the tournament Saturday with matches against Our Lady of the Lake University at 11 a.m. and Oklahoma Baptist University at 3 p.m.