Comeback efforts stopped by UCSB for first-round Bobcat loss

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Texas State volleyball players sing the Texas State Fight Song after a victory against Coastal Carolina to win the Sunbelt Conference Championship Nov. 24 at Strahan Arena.

Cade Andrews, Sports Reporter

Hopes for a second-round redemption match against Texas were cut short as Bobcat volleyball ended their season in the first round of the NCAA tournament with a 3-1 loss to UC Santa Barbara (21-25, 21-25, 25-20, 14-25).

The Bobcats finished the season 24-9 with a 15-3 record in the Sun Belt.

Texas State entered the tournament as 31st to the Gaucho’s 32nd, a near-even matchup that was evidenced in the stats. Despite UCSB prevailing in kills, hitting percentage, blocks and assists, the game was a back-and-forth effort that saw 21 tied scores.

Texas State initially struggled to get things going offensively with .178 hitting percentage after a 25-21 loss in the first set.  The ‘Cats got out to a big lead in the second set, jumping to a six-point lead as they neared the end of the set 19-13 before UCSB went on a 6-0 run to further their advantage. Despite a .333 hitting percentage to start the frame, the Bobcats finished with a lower percentage than the first set (.175).

The Bobcats finally capitalized on their long runs in the third set, rising up from a 3-0 deficit and leading by as much as six points once again (19-13) before staying alive with a 25-20 victory. Key blocks from senior outside hitter Cheyenne Huskey and freshman middle blocker Tessa Marshall solidified the defense and prevented a UCSB sweep.

The Gauchos finalized the win in the fourth set, running away to an 18-6 lead before the Bobcats threw in a last-ditch effort with a 4-0 run. The comeback proved too little, too late, and the ‘Cats ended their second consecutive NCAA tournament qualification season with a 3-1 loss.

The ‘Cats will return to Strahan Arena in hopes of a third straight Sun Belt championship and NCAA qualification in August of 2020.


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