When UTPB’s volleyball team last saw Texas A&M-International on the other side of the net, the Dustdevils were finishing off a five-set Heartland Conference victory at home in Laredo.
That loss didn’t sit well with the Lady Falcons, or head coach Steve Aicinena.
UTPB exacted a measure of revenge Saturday — and jumbled the Heartland Conference standings at the same time.
Melissa Lusk had a team-high 10 kills and the Lady Falcons got balanced hitting throughout their lineup in a 25-15, 27-25, 25-22 victory at the Falcon Dome.
Danae Eckart had a match-high 28 digs to lead the Lady Falcons (13-12 overall, 5-4 conference), who pulled into a third-place tie with A&M International (11-13, 5-4) and Dallas Baptist (11-12, 5-4).
If that wasn’t enough, UTPB then came back 30 minutes later and swept Huston-Tillotson 25-8, 25-20, 25-16 in a nonconference match to cap a perfect afternoon.
“We really needed to win the match against International,” Aicinena said. “Right now, we’re in a third-place tie and we are in a position if we can win a couple more matches, we can qualify for the (Heartland Conference) tournament, which is really important to me.
“We played infinitely better than we did when were down in Laredo. The kids really stuck with the game plan and executed it a whole lot better, which led to more blocking schemes and more digs and just better attacking from us.”
Miranda Pratt, as she did in the first meeting, led the Dustdevils with a match-high 14 kills, with Andrea Marshall adding 13.
The first set saw the teams trade points, and the lead, until Jamie Rodell hammered home a quick attack in the middle to put the Lady Falcons up, 10-9, and put Eckart on the line to serve.
Lusk then took over the net with a kill, a block attempt that forced the Dustdevils to hit the ball wide, two more kills and then a block, along with Alex Genung, that moved the Lady Falcons out to a 14-8 lead and they were never caught.
Though the next two sets were close, UTPB was in control the entire match.
“We knew the last time we played them that we should have won,” Lusk said. “There is no shot they there are any better than us; we should have beat them.
“We came out with the intensity that we needed to beat them and that we could. Our defense has really picked up lately; I think it’s been because we’ve been working on defense a lot, getting on the floor going after every ball and I think that showed up.”
In the second half of the doubleheader, Aicinena was able to get some key playing time for the freshmen on his squad, even playing some of them out of position.
Terra Peil had a team-high nine kills for the Lady Falcons, with Jasmine Cannon and Ryley Carman each finishing with seven.
Setter Sara Torres finished with 20 assists, with Ariel Fralick pitching in with 16 helpers.
And though the play was sloppy at times, the three-set victory was win 297 for Aicinena.
“That’s nice, but getting the first win of the day against International was key,” he said.
>> UTPB def. Texas A&M International 25-15, 27-25, 25-22
At UTPB’s Falcon Dome
Kills — A&M International: Katrina Zens 2. Alex Ciszek 4, Jacquelynne Matula 2, Andrea Marshall 13, Miranda Pratt 14; UTPB: Alex Genung 8, Sara Torres 2, Keeley Brogdon 4, Heather Sanchez 5, Jamie Rodell 7, Melissa Lusk 10, Terri Peil 4.
Blocks — A&M International: Daria Winkler 1, Katrina Zens 1.5, Jacquelynne Matula 1, Andrea Marshall .5, Miranda Pratt .5; UTPB: Heather Sanchez 1, Jamie Rodell 1, Melissa Lusk 1, Terra Peil 1.
Assists — A&M International: Daria Winckler 30, Jacquelynne Matula 1, Miranda Pratt 2, Desiree Ortiz 1; UTPB: Sara Torres 14, Keely Brogdon 4, Ariel Fralick 11, Terra Peil 4.
Digs — A&M International: Daria Winckler 13, Kartinz Zens 1, Alex Ciszek 6, Andrea Marshall 16, Miranda Pratt 6, Desiree Ortiz 21; UTPB: Alex Genung 6, Sara Torres 5, Keeley Brogdon 4, Heather Sanchez 15, Melissa Lusk 1, Jessica Escalante 5, Ariel Fralick 3, Danae Eckart 28.
Aces — A&M International: Andrea Marshall 2; UTPB: Sara Torres 1, Keely Brogdon 1, Ariel Fralick 2.
A&M International 11-13 overall, 5-4 Heartland Conference; UTPB 13-12, 5-6.
>> UTPB def. Huston-Tillotson 25-8, 25-20, 25-16
At UTPB Falcon Dome
Kills — H-T: Chantelia Washington 11, Jamee Wilson 1, Mariah Wooten 3, Peyton Johnson 1, Aubrey Bartee 1; UTPB: Jasmine Cannon 7, Martha Gonzalez 6, Jamie Rodell 6, Melissa Lusk 4, Ryley Carman 7, Jessica Escalante 1, Keeley Brogdon 5, Terra Piel 9.
Blocks — H-T: Mariah Wooten .5, Aubrey Bartee .5, Faron Bradley 1; UTPB: Jamie Rodell 2, Martha Gonzalez .5, Ryley Carman .5, Ariel Fralick .5, Terra Peil .5
Assists — H-T: Faron Bradley 15; UTPB: Sara Torres 20, Martha Gonzalez 1, Ryley Carman 2, Ariel Fralick 16.
Digs — H-T: Chantelia Washington 7, Jamee Wilson 4, Aubrey Bartee 3, Faron Bradley 4, Teneshia Abney 4, Amber Breen 2, Brianna Alvarado 2; UTPB: Sara Torres 3, Jasmine Cannon 5, Martha Gonzalez 14, Melissa Lusk 5, Jessica Escalante 9, Keeley Brogdon 3, Ariel Fralick 1, Terra Peil 1.
Aces — H-T: Brianna Alvarado 1; UTPB: Martha Gonzalez 2, Melissa Lusk 3, Jessica Escalante 1, Ariel Fralick 1.