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The University Star

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New-look squad looks to transition into new era of Bobcat volleyball

The+Texas+State+volleyball+team+celebrates+a+winning+point%2C+Saturday%2C+August+19%2C+2023%2C+at+Strahan+Arena.
Carly Earnest
The Texas State volleyball team celebrates a winning point, Saturday, August 19, 2023, at Strahan Arena.

The 2022 volleyball season saw Texas State retain one of the most experienced rosters in the Sun Belt Conference while finishing atop the West Division with a 24-7 record and 11-1 against conference opponents.

Since falling short of a conference championship in 2022, Texas State now looks to shape a new era of Bobcat volleyball after a total of seven new faces enter the team for the 2023 season.

The volleyball class of 2023 saw the likes of Emily DeWalt and Janell Fitzgerald complete historic Bobcat careers, and head coach Sean Huiet understands the process that lies ahead in working with an entirely new roster this season.

“Texas State volleyball has been good for a long time, and so we talked to our group a lot about that,Huiet said. “That group was a special class. We know that and theres no replacing them, but what were doing is we want to come in and take our program to another level.

Since losing 11 players from last season’s roster, junior defensive specialist Jacqueline Lee understands the importance of her enlarged role and is excited to work with this new-look roster.

“This is my junior year now and there’s a lot of new faces on the team but it’s really exciting getting to see… our friendship blossoming on top of our court play,” Lee said. “It’s been really exciting seeing in the offseason what we can do and how we’re going to be able to perform.”

The new era of Texas State volleyball has many doubting the success of the team, though Huiet believes in his teams’ ability and that flying under the radar can ease pressure on the team.

We’re excited. Our slogan this year is leave no doubt because we know people are going to doubt us,Huiet said. “Because a lot of people don’t know who’s on the court, and who’s going to be out there and that’s exciting for us. We love that and its not pressure because we know that we can play at that level.

Huiet has put a large emphasis on improving the teams blocking and defense over the summer and sees potential for this team to be even better than in past seasons.

“There are times in the gym this week where I feel like we could be better than we were the last couple years,” Huiet said. “We’re bigger. We’re more physical. It’s just going to be a process because we are young.”

Texas State managed to recruit additional experience to help this young roster after bringing in graduate outside hitter K. J. Johnson, who has experience playing in key games for both Fairfield University and Baylor.

Johnson looks to finish her fifth and final collegiate season in a Bobcat uniform, and Huiet is ecstatic to be able to bring in her knowledge and experience to blend with the rest of the team.

“K.J. has been an All-American the last couple [of] years,” Huiet said. “She went to the Final Four with Baylor; she’s had that experience; she’s had matches be in her hands with big swings and that’s something we knew we needed and so she’s providing a lot of that for us with such a young group.”

Ahead of her last year, Johnson wants to leave everything she has on the court and isn’t taking anything for granted as she begins to adapt to her new squad.

I just want to bring as much leadership, effort, everything that I can since its my last year,” Johnson said. I just want to go all out and leave no doubt, just leave everything out there since this is really it.

Huiet understands the process of working with this new team but isn’t steering away from the culture of Texas State Volleyball and is excited to see his players step into bigger roles and become better leaders.

“It’s been good watching them take the reins and teach everyone kind of what Texas State volleyball is, because we’ve really focused in on Texas State volleyball,” Huiet said. “It’s where our program has been and it’s where we want it to be.” 

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