Special to The Sun
A rash of hitting errors negated Central Oklahoma’s gritty fourth-set rally and resulted in another tough loss for the Bronchos Tuesday night at Hamilton Field House.
Pittsburg State prevailed 22-25, 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 15-11 in the two-hour, 13-minute marathon to hand UCO its fourth straight loss, though the Bronchos still clinched a spot in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Postseason Tournament.
UCO overcome a 20-17 fourth-set deficit in forcing the fifth set, but the Bronchos opened with three straight hitting miscues to fall behind quickly and never recovered while committing four more hitting errors the rest of the way.
It was the fifth five-set loss of the season for UCO, which fell to 12-17 overall while finishing 7-10 in the MIAA. The Bronchos, who host East Central at 6 p.m. Saturday in the regular season finale, will be the No. 8 seed in the league tournament that gets underway next week.
Freshman Talia Stanley sparked UCO Tuesday, collecting a season-high 14 kills along with six assisted blocks. Morgan Roy had a team-high 15 kills with 18 digs and five blocks (one solo, four assisted).
Juliette Smith hit .444 with eight kills and no errors in 14 attacks in addition to making five assisted blocks, while Faith Harmon had 45 assists, 11 digs and six blocks (one solo, five assisted). Barbara Jackson added nine kills and Tate Hardaker 20 digs.
PSU had a 20-17 lead in the first set, but the Bronchos came back to tie it at 22-all and then went ahead on a Stanley kill before Roy won it with back-to-back kills.
The Gorillas jumped out to a big lead in winning the second set, turned back a UCO rally in taking the third and led most of the way in the fourth before the Bronchos rallied again.
UCO trailed 20-17 and was still down 21-19 before getting a Smith kill at the net and Hardaker service ace to tie it. PSU went back in front 23-22, but the Bronchos scored the last three points — two on Stanley kills — to win it.
UCO’s hitting woes gave the Gorillas a quick 3-0 lead in the fifth set and this time the Bronchos couldn’t come back.