The crowd was fierce as No. 2 seed WTAMU upset No. 1 seed and LSC Tournament host Angelo State Rambelles in five sets (25-19, 23-25, 25-18, 25-22, 15-12) Saturday, Nov. 17 for the Lone Star Conference Tournament championship at The Junell Center in San Angelo, Texas.
The win is WT’s 14th overall conference title and the seventh consecutive championship. The Lady Buffs (30-4) also received the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA South Central Region Tournament.
The win also gave WT’s five seniors their fourth straight conference title.
“I think it’s such a good thing for our team that we had to come in here,” senior middle blocker and tournament MVP Erin Dougherty said. “We had to fight. We had to show who we were.”
The victory, the Lady Buffs’ 10th straight and the third in a row against a team that beat WT in the regular season, gives the Lady Buffs their second consecutive 30-win season and lifts them to 14-1 all-time in conference championship matches and 39-4 all-time in the LSC Tournament.
With the first set tied 18-18 late, a pair of WT points forced Angelo State head coach Chuck Waddington to call a time out with the Lady Buffs up 20-18. The Lady Buffs continued on a 7-1 run after the break, to take the first set.
The Rambelles (27-5) came back to win sets two and three, with the two teams battling for the upper hand.
“[Angelo State] started pushing and we looked shocked that they were pushing,” head coach Jason Skoch said. “Angelo is exceptionally good and…I just felt like the biggest thing holding us back was ourselves.”
The Rambelles were dominating through most of the fourth set, scoring seven of the first nine points to force a WT timeout. Later in the set, the Belles were up on WT 21-16 late in the set, with Angelo just four points away from their first LSC Tournament Title since 1992. The Lady Buffs used three Dougherty kills and a service ace from senior defensive specialist Sophie McBride to cut the ASU lead to 21-20 and force an Angelo time out. The Lady Buffs scored five of the next six points to force a decisive fifth set.
“Midway in that fourth set, I told them to say, ‘the hell with it,’ we’ve got nothing to lose. Let’s go out aggressive,” Skoch said. “I think it just freed up some of the girls.”
Angelo State came out strong in the fifth set, leading WT 6-3 early. The Lady Buffs scored the next three points to tie the set 6-6 and force a Rambelle timeout. After the break, the Lady Buffs never looked back, with junior outside hitter Halie Harton getting the final kill and putting the exclamation point on a five-set victory for WT.
“The second game, we kind of started playing not to lose, third game same way,” senior libero and current all-time leader in career digs in WT history Lauren Beville said. “Going into game five, same thing, we started to play not to lose and then all of a sudden, I think I got back there serving.”