No. 15 Texas State volleyball (23-2 overall, 15-1 Sun Belt) beat Troy (11-8 overall, 10-6 Sun Belt) Nov. 22 in four sets (25-17, 25-13, 25-22) in the semi-finals of the Sun Belt Conference Championship tournament.
Texas State has an 11-0 all-time record against Troy, and it continued that streak this time around.
The Bobcats got off to a great start in the first set going up 4-1. The Trojans responded by launching a 6-1 run to take the lead 7-5.
When trailing 8-9, the Bobcats picked up their pace and went on an 8-1 run to lead 16-10. Junior outside hitter Kenedi Rutherford had four kills during the period.
With no significant runs made by either team for the remainder of the period, Texas State capped off the first set with a kill by Rutherford to win it 25-17.
In the first set, Rutherford had six kills with a .600 hitting percentage, sophomore defensive specialist Michelle Foster had six digs, and junior setter Emily DeWalt had 11 assists.
At the start of the second set, Troy had the advantage of leading 5-4. The Bobcats put up a 6-1 run to go ahead 10-6, and they never gave up the lead in the set after that.
The Trojans' senior outside hitter Cheyenne Hayes had three kills and junior middle hitter Caitlin Cooper had two more to narrow the gap to 15-13. The Bobcats answered with a 10-0 run to close out the second set 25-13.
During that stretch, senior middle blocker Tyeranee Scott had four kills and three blocks. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Lauren Teske joined with three kills of her own in the run.
In the second set, Scott had seven kills and four blocks, junior setter Emily DeWalt added 14 assists, and junior libero Kayla Granado had seven digs.
In the third set, Texas State started off strong by going up 4-0 and eventually pushing its lead to 5-2. With three kills by Hayes, the Trojans managed to put together a 7-1 run to take the lead 9-6.
The 'Cats came back to tie the score at 11-11, but Troy's persistence allowed it to gain a 14-11 lead.
A media timeout was called with the score at 15-12. Out of the timeout, junior outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald scored five unanswered points for Texas State. Despite being quiet for most of the match, Fitzgerald had four kills and a block during the run.
After a timeout called by Troy, the Trojans came back with a quick 4-1 run to take back the lead 19-18.
The two teams traded blows to tie at 21-21. Troy scored three unanswered points, featuring back-to-back aces by junior outside hitter Alison Siersma, to bring up set point 24-21. A kill by Cooper won the third set for Troy 25-22. The Trojans prevented a sweep by bringing the match score to 2-1.
In the third set, Troy was led by Hayes who had five kills, junior setter Amara Anderson tacked on 11 assists and junior libero Lacey Jeffcoat had eight digs.
In the fourth set, Texas State scored the first point and never let the lead go from there.
With the score at 4-3, the 'Cats put up an 8-2 scoring run that featured two kills and a block by Scott. DeWalt shined with two kills, two blocks and three assists during the run, bringing the score up to 13-5.
With the score at 16-10, the Bobcats had yet another 8-2 run to bring the score to 24-12. Scott got another two kills, and Teske had back-to-back aces during the streak. A kill by Rutherford finished the fourth set 25-13 and captured the victory for the Maroon and Gold 3-1.
The 'Cats had 57 kills, a .315 hitting percentage, 77 digs, and a season-high 16 blocks in the semi-final match.
Leading the way for Texas State was Scott with a season-high hitting percentage of .615, a match-high 16 kills without an error and eight blocks.
Rutherford had 13 kills, five digs and a .321 hitting percentage. Fitzgerald had 12 kills and six blocks.
DeWalt captured her 17th double-double, with 46 assists and 10 digs. She also managed to get seven digs with two aces. On the defensive end, Granado had 20 digs.
"I cannot say enough about how my staff had our team prepared for what Troy was going to do," Head Coach Sean Huiet said. "I thought our game plan was great, and our kids did a great job executing it."
Texas State will face No. 12 Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt Conference Championship. The match-up will be a repeat affair of the 2019 Conference Championship when Texas State beat Coastal Carolina 3-1.
This season, Coastal Carolina is sporting the only undefeated record (18-0 overall, 16-0 Sun Belt) in the Sun Belt.
Junior opposite hitter Anett Nemeth is leading the way for the Chanticleers. Nemeth was named the 2019 Sun Belt Player of the Year.
Nemeth is first in average kills per set (4.40), fifth in total kills (255), fourth in hitting percentage (.330) and second in average aces per set (.40) in the Sun Belt this season.
Sophomore setter Brigitta Petrenko leads Coastal Carolina in assists with 441. Petrenko is first in the Sun Belt in average aces per set (0.58) and sixth in average assists per set (8.55).
As a team, the Chanticleers lead the Sun Belt in hitting percentage (.268) and are third in total aces (105).
Coastal Carolina is coming off a 3-0 sweep against Little Rock (25-15, 25-15, 25-15). The Chants led in almost every statistical category against the Little Rock.
Despite the Chanticleers' success, Huiet says the team will be prepared.
"We are happy to be playing for a championship [Nov. 22], and we know Coastal is a great team," Huiet said. "We will rest up and be ready to go tomorrow."
Texas State will play Coastal Carolina for the Sun Belt Conference Championship at 1 p.m on Nov. 22 at the Foley Event Center in Foley, Alabama.