Volleyball clinches top conference spot with redemption win


Texas State volleyball celebrates a Sun Belt Championship victory, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, at Strahan Arena. Photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics. Photo courtesy of Texas State Athletics.

Cade Andrews

After a four-game road trip, the Texas State volleyball team returned to Strahan Arena this weekend and captured two crucial wins to clinch a share of the 2019 Sun Belt Conference regular season title.

After suffering their first conference loss to Arkansas State, Texas State retaliated with a 3-1 victory (22-25, 25-15, 25-19, 25-18) in front of the 7th largest crowd in program history Saturday night to ensure a first place finish in conference.

Texas State improved to 21-8 overall and 13-2 in the Sun Belt Conference. The win also extended their conference home winning streak to 22 matches.

Head coach Karen Chisum said that the team tweaked their passing game after the first set and had a high-performing front line that led them to the win.

“That was a great match and it was exciting for the fans,” Chisum said. “We had almost every one of our hitters being productive at the key points. I didn’t think we dug very well that first game but I thought we really picked it up.”

Texas State dropped the first set and suffered a 5-1 deficit in the second set, warranting a timeout and worrying fans that a repeat loss to Arkansas State may occur. The Bobcats quickly responded, however, taking a 16-4 run before winning the first set 25-15 and securing the game in the final two sets. The ‘Cats managed to finish with a .279 hitting percentage and held the Red Wolves to a .170 clip behind 70 digs and 11 blocks. Four Bobcats finished with over a .300 hitting percentage.

Senior outside hitter Cheyenne Huskey led the way to the win, recording her 11th double-double of the season with 15 kills (.308) and 14 digs. She also had two aces and four blocks. Freshman middle blocker Tessa Marshall hit a career-high with 12 kills (.357) and seven blocks. Following her was freshman outside hitter Caitlan Buettner who matched her career-high with 11 kills (.391) and added three blocks defensively. Sophomore setter Emily DeWalt also recorded her 11th double-double of the season as she tallied 46 assists and 10 digs to go with two kills, one ace and one block. The weekend’s performances earned DeWalt the Sun Belt Setter of the Week award, her third weekly award this season.

Marshall, who has stepped up as a key hitter after an injury from Jillian Slaughter, said that her teammates made her feel comfortable as she took a starting role on the team.

“The whole team from day one when I started playing, or even when I was on the bench, told me they believed in me,” Marshall said. “It was easy to fit in with this group.”

A day earlier, Texas State swept Arkansas-Little Rock 25-16, 25-17, 25-18 for its 12th sweep of the season. The win marked the 26th season under Chisum that the Bobcats have reached the 20-win mark.

The Bobcats shut down the Trojans as they held them to a .078 hitting percentage. Texas State had a .286 hitting percentage behind 45 kills and three aces. With the win, Texas State improved to 11-5 all-time vs. Little Rock and have won the last seven matches.

Huskey led the team with 14 kills and two aces. She also had six digs, which matched a team-high with three other teammates. Sophomore Janell Fitzgerald recorded eight kills on 17 swings (.353). DeWalt had 35 assists to go along with six digs and four kills. Junior libero Brooke Johnson and Buettner each had six digs to match the team-high.

After multiple road trips, the sweep was a good way to regroup and find their groove again, associate head coach Sean Huiet said.

“I thought everybody stepped up tonight,” Huiet said. “We know we’re going to need everyone down the road, so it was great to see some players get into a rhythm tonight.”

Texas State returns to Strahan Arena for senior day on Friday and their final regular season match to take on UT Arlington at 6:30 p.m. The Sun Belt Conference Championships will be held at Strahan Arena on Nov. 21-24.

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