No. 15 Texas State volleyball (22-2 overall, 15-1 Sun Belt) defeated the University of South Alabama (8-14 overall, 7-9 Sun Belt) in a 3-0 (25-13, 25-20, 25-18) sweep in the second match of the Sun Belt Conference pool play Nov. 20.
Texas State had yet to play the Jaguars this season, as they are a part of the East Division. The two teams met 12 times prior, with Texas State holding a 9-3 advantage all time and winning the last two.
Opening set one, Texas State trailed 2-0 but quickly recovered and scored five straight to take the lead 5-2. South Alabama then went on a 4-1 run to even the score at 6-6.
The Bobcats picked up their pace, scoring four unanswered points to lead 10-6, and forced the Jaguars to take a timeout.
Out of the timeout, the maroon and gold continued their strong play and extended the lead to 15-8 halfway through the set.
After an impressive block by junior setter Emily DeWalt and a powerful kill by junior outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald, the Bobcats improved to 18-10, leading to another South Alabama timeout.
Texas State would cap off a 7-3 run with back-to-back aces from senior setter Brooke Johnson followed by an error from the Jaguars to win the opening set 25-13.
Beginning the second set, South Alabama led 6-4 after two consecutive Texas State attacking errors. After blocks by DeWalt, junior outside hitter Kenedi Rutherford and junior middle blocker Tyeranee Scott, Texas State would lead 10-7.
After a South Alabama timeout, the Bobcats extended their lead 16-9 with a 6-2 run, including two kills by Fitzgerald.
Following an impressive solo block by Scott to extend the lead 21-13, the Jaguars would mount one last comeback, getting as close as 23-19, but the Bobcats would be too much and go on to win 25-20 and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Through two sets, Texas State had a total of 30 kills (.323) and six blocks. Leading the Bobcats in kills was Fitzgerald with nine, in assists was DeWalt with 33 and in digs was defensive specialist Kayla Granado with seven.
Texas State got out to a quick 3-0 start in the third set after a few defensive mistakes by South Alabama. The Jaguars would respond by tying the game up 5-5 and managed to stay even with the Bobcats through most of the first half of the set.
Leading 11-10, Texas State would go on a 4-0 run to increase the lead 15-10 heading into the media timeout.
After trading points back and forth, the Bobcats would start to pull away following a kill by Fitzgerald to put the Bobcats up 20-15. South Alabama would score only three more points in the set and commit four errors before a kill from Slaughter would put the game away 25-18 and complete the 3-0 sweep.
Texas State recorded a total of 43 kills (.279), 39 assists, 43 digs and eight total blocks. Leading the Bobcats in kills was Fitzgerald (14), who also recorded a season-high in attacking percentage (.591) with one lone error. Following her, was Rutherford (7), Teske (7) and Scott (6). DeWalt led in assists (33) and Granado led in digs (11).
On the other side of the net, South Alabama put together 29 kills (.099), 27 assists, 37 digs and four total blocks. Senior outside hitter Hannah Harris led the Jaguars in kills (7) and junior libero/defensive specialist Rachel Hickey led the game in digs (12).
Head Coach Sean Huiet has been pleased with how the Bobcats have played thus far.
“That felt good tonight,” Huiet said. “I thought we got in a rhythm early and stayed steady throughout the match. Emily [DeWalt] and Janell [Fitzgerald] played at a high level, and we are going to need that for the rest of the weekend if we want to win this thing. I am proud of our kids today.”
Texas State is coming off a win in its first pool play game against the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Texas State will move on to the semi-finals and look to continue the momentum against the winner of the University of Texas at Arlington and Troy University at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 in Foley, Alabama.