EDINBURG, Tex. -- In front of a crowd of close to 800 fans at the UTPA Field House the undefeated UTB/TSC National Champion volleyball team withheld a rally from the University of Texas-Pan American Broncs to win the "Battle of the Orange" 3-2 and stay undefeated on the season.
In the early match of a doubleheader in Edinburg UTB/TSC beat the Texas Southern Tigers in three straight sets 25-19, 25-21, 25-15.
After a tough first set, that went down to the wire and UTB/TSC lost 25-23,
UTB/TSC looked to build some momentum going into their second set and found it behind some strong defense from Paula Barros and strong upfront play on the net by Vanja Joksic and Ana Guerra. In the set UTB/TSC took a 19-15 lead and never looked back winning 25-17.
UTB/TSC came out from the locker room a bit sluggish for their third set and quickly fell behind 10-6 to a more aggressive UTPA squad. UTB/TSC fought to tie the set at 14-14 and made it close through out but ultimately fell 25-23 and UTPA took a 2-1 set lead.
"I felt that we got back some really good momentum going after the second set but I felt that our team lost it in the ten minute break after that set." said UTB/TSC Head Coach Todd Lowery.
Since UTB/TSC plays in the NAIA they are used to only three-minute breaks between sets two and three, however NCAA rules dictates that the teams take a ten-minute break between those sets. Saturday's game was played under NCAA rules.
"It was a long day and we didn't play great at the beginning and we were not very sharp." said Lowery. " I told the girls to keep touching balls and to keep them in play when the pressure was on and they did a great job of doing that."
With the crowd on their feet for the rest of the match UTB/TSC took a 22-21 lead and made a valiant effort in an exciting fourth set and came up short 27-25.
UTB/TSC knew that it wasn't how they started the match but how they would finish it. Leading in the fifth and deciding set 11-7, after a slow start and trailing 4-1, UTB/TSC put it into fifth gear and shut the door on UTPA. The Broncs would come as close as tying it 7-7 but with the Brownsville faithful chanting loudly "UTB, UTB, UTB!' UTB/TSC put pressure and at the end slammed four straight kills to take the set 15-11.
"The girls fought at the end of the game and gave us some much needed momentum (in the fifth set) with some big blocks and kills," said Lowery.
Danica Markovic led all players with 14 kills to go with 17 digs. Ana Guerra and Erica Chimak also posted double-doubles for UTB/TSC. Guerra had 13 kills and 12 blocks and Chimak ended the match with 10 kills and 16 digs.
Up next for UTB/TSC is the start of conference this Friday versus University of the Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico and then another tough non-conference matchup versus #21 Lubbock Christian in Lubbock, Texas on Saturday.