Volleyball sweeps weekend in Arkansas

Sophomore+outside+hitter+Janell+Fitzgerald+celebrates+after+a+kill+in+the+sweep+against+Little+Rock+on+Saturday.+Photo+courtesy+of+Texas+State+Athletics.
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Volleyball sweeps weekend in Arkansas

Sophomore outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald celebrates after a kill in the sweep against Little Rock on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics.

Sophomore outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald celebrates after a kill in the sweep against Little Rock on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics.

Sophomore outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald celebrates after a kill in the sweep against Little Rock on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics.

Sophomore outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald celebrates after a kill in the sweep against Little Rock on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics.

Claire Partain

Bobcat volleyball split their two matches in Arkansas this weekend, taking their first conference loss with a failed 2-3 comeback attempt against Arkansas State Friday before pulling off their fifth sweep of the season against Little Rock on Saturday.

The ‘Cats are now 11-7 for the season and 3-1 in conference.

The Bobcats avenged their Friday loss to finish the weekend with a decisive 3-0 sweep over Little Rock (25-8, 25-12, 25-18).

Texas State rendered the Trojans useless in the first set, keeping Little Rock in the single digits for a 25-8 win.

Redshirt freshman Lauren Teske said that Little Rock’s low-scoring game was a sweet reward after hard work paid off.

“When you do beat a team like that, yeah it’s the other team’s errors but it’s also all the things you’ve been working on,” Teske said. “It’s a good payoff when that happens.”

The win set the tone for the second and third sets, with the ‘Cats sailing along a 25-12 and 25-18 second and third set to finish the weekend with a sweep.

The ‘Cats never trailed throughout the game, leading the stat board in kills (37-26), aces (7-4), hitting percentage (.337-.075) and assists (35-22).

The underclassmen outside hitters led their dominating offensive performance, with sophomore Janell Fitzgerald and Teske pacing the team with eight kills.

Teske said her teammates led her and Fitzgerald to have a high-performing match.

“My teammates had my back,” Teske said. “Emily (DeWalt) put trust in me and gave me the ball, and then with the flow of the overall game, we were really confident with what we were doing and so my teammates helped me out a lot with me having the numbers that I did.”

Sophomore setter Emily DeWalt, the key playmaker for the Bobcats, put in work for her fourth straight double with 29 assists and 11 digs alongside two aces.

The team reached double-digit aces under senior outside hitter Cheyenne Huskey’s four aces. DeWalt and junior defensive specialist Brooke Johnson kept the floor clear from aces on the Bobcat side with 11 and eight digs respectively, while the team put down 10 aces on the Trojan side.

The dominating win came after a much tighter 3-2 loss at Arkansas State on Friday (23-25, 22-25, 25-16, 25-21, 6-15).

The ‘Cats battled through the first set, switching leads seven times and tying 11 times before the Red Wolves took it away with a 4-1 run to go 25-23.

Another loss came in the second set after Arkansas State led 17-11 before the Bobcats attempted a comeback but ultimately lost their second chance 25-22.

Texas State proved they weren’t finished in the third set, taking the pressure well and taking off with a 4-1 lead before taking the set with a 25-16 victory.

Teske said that the team put it all together in the third set because they knew they could perform better.

“I think in the third set what motivated us was our determination of knowing that the first two sets wasn’t Texas State volleyball,” Teske said. “We knew we were better than that and we wanted to prove to our fans, to ourselves, to Arkansas (State) that we weren’t going to go without a fight.”

The pressure never left for the ‘Cats, whose backs were to the wall as they rallied once again in the fourth set to bring on a fifth chance with their 25-21 win.

The ‘Cats were unable to keep the momentum into the fifth set, however, and the Red Wolves took it away with a 15-6 finish.

In the end, Arkansas State just came out with a higher intensity, Teske said.

“Arkansas State just came out with more grit and more focus and determination than us and that’s why we lost,” Teske said. “We knew we were going to have to come out strong because we knew Arkansas State was a good team but they just came out stronger and we were on the downswings.”

Both Texas State and Arkansas State saw a low hitting percentage, with the Red Wolves seeing a narrow lead (.139-.157).

Huskey led offensively with 15 kills, two aces and put in defensive work with a team-pacing five blocks. Junior middle blocker Tyranee Scott joined the defensive fight with five blocks of her own.

The back line attempted to keep the ball up, with Johnson making a team high of 18 digs alongside two aces, while sophomore DS Kayla Granado hit a career-high of 16 digs.

The team faces a quick turnaround as they travel to the University of Texas-Arlington for a weekday matchup on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

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