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UTSA falls in five-set finale of Roadrunner Classic

SAN ANTONIO — The UTSA volleyball team dropped a five-set heartbreaker to wrap up the Roadrunner Classic on Saturday as Tarleton State worked a 27-25, 20-25, 18-25, 25-19, 17-15 win over the Runners' at the Convocation Center. 

"It was a tough weekend for us," said coach Carol Price-Torok following the match. "I think we had really great moments at times and got tested a lot. That Delaware match was a four-setter; we saw some really great attackers in a veteran team and then again today in a five-set loss to Tarleton. We have to continue to learn how to finish at the end of sets, ride our momentum waves, and make sure that we can move on to the next play". 

The Roadrunners (4-2, 0-0 AAC) fell to the Texans (3-4, 0-0 WAC) despite UTSA posting individual leaders in nearly every major statistical category. Senior Aliah Giroux paced the match in digs with 23, while sophomore Makenna Wiepert fell two scoops shy of a double-double to the tune of 42 assists, another match-best. Nobody blocked more attacks than senior Alicia Coppedge, who sent nine of the opposition's attempts back, and sophomore Mia Soerensen logged a match-high 16 kills. Not far behind Soerensen, senior Cansu Günaydin worked 14 successful attacks for her highest total of 2023. Additionally, junior Ellie Turner delivered a solid performance, with nine digs and three service aces. 

After exchanging blows early in the first frame, a Soerensen termination, E. Turner ace, and a sophomore Caroline Krueger kill saw UTSA go up 12-8. The Roadrunners kept the opposition at arms-length, using another Soerensen kill and a Texan miscue to claim a 19-14 advantage. TSU cut their deficit to three late in the set, working a 23-20 score line ahead of a Texan kill that prompted a Roadrunner timeout. Coppedge fired a successful attack over the net, to which TSU answered, sparking a surge that forced a 24-24 score line and win-by-two scenario. Günaydin used a perfectly placed ball to hand UTSA their 25th point, but the Texans rallied, scoring three straight to win the set, 27-25. 

UTSA came out firing in the second stanza, with two Coppedge kills, a termination by Günaydin, and an ace for sophomore Katelyn Krienke, resulting in a 6-2 Roadrunner edge. Soerensen then launched three successful attacks as a part of a five-point UTSA run that grew the Roadrunner lead to seven. Coppedge and Wiepert combined for a block, affording UTSA a 20-11 lead, ahead of a three-point TSU spurt that induced a UTSA timeout. The Texans kept battling before Soerensen capped off the set with her ninth kill of the match, affording her squad a 25-20 win. 

TSU jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third, but Sorensen's solid day at the office continued with three more terminations, leading to a 6-6 draw. The battle raged on, with each team exchanging blows and extending the deadlock to 15. The Texans logged three straight points before UTSA responded, surging to win the next 10 rallies, as back-to-back E. Turner aces and a TSU miscue resulted in a 25-18 Roadrunner victory, 

The Texans won the race to 10 in the fourth, eventually growing a 15-9 lead. TSU kept their foot on the gas, working a 21-15 score line as the set's conclusion neared. UTSA kept fighting as kills by Soerensen and junior Faye Wilbricht capped off a three-point swing, forcing a Texan timeout. With TSU leading 21-18, the Texans finished off the set using a 25-19 score to force a fifth and deciding set. 

The squads continued battling in the fifth, trading rallies until a Günaydin termination saw an 8-7 score and allowed the teams to switch sides. UTSA then rode four consecutive points to a 12-7 advantage in a stretch that saw a junior Cheyenne Hlady kill as well as multiple Coppedge blocks. The Texans responded with a two-score spurt of their own, inducing a UTSA timeout. TSU scored two straight out of the break, knotting the contest at 12. A wide serve allowed UTSA to regain their edge, and a Coppedge block put the Roadrunners one score away from victory. TSU equalized, yielding another win-by-two situation, and the teams traded rallies, tying things at 15. The Texans then rattled off back-to-back kills to take a 17-15 set victory and the match. 

The Roadrunners will now visit Buies Creek, N.C., with UTSA set to compete in the Campbell Invitational in what represents their first road trip of the 2023 season. The Runners' will first face Georgia Southern at noon on Friday, ahead of a 6 p.m. match with host school Campbell that evening. UTSA wraps up the invite on Saturday with a 10 a.m. contest against San Jose State.

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