No. 13 Texas State volleyball (19-1 overall, 14-0 Sun Belt) pulled off a reverse sweep Nov. 7 to beat Arkansas State (8-8 Sun Belt) 3-2 (23-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-5) for its 16th win in a row.
Arkansas State's conference-best defense, which had been absent in the previous two games, came back with force in the final game of the three-game series.
Head Coach Sean Huiet was pleased with his team after the five-set comeback win.
"I love that we were challenged, and we maintained our composure," Huiet said. "To be down 0-2 on the road and win takes great character. This team always believes we are going to win."
The first set was tightly contested from the start, with 10 ties and four lead changes throughout the set. Down 8-7, Texas State had three-straight kills to take the lead 10-7.
With the Bobcats up 14-11, the Red Wolves called a timeout to regroup. Out of the timeout, Arkansas State went on a 5-0 run to retake the lead 16-14. Texas State's sophomore outside hitter Lauren Teske responded with a kill, followed by back-to-back errors by Arkansas State to put the Bobcats up 17-16.
After another Red Wolves' timeout, Arkansas State took control of the set with a 6-2 run and take the lead 22-19. The Bobcats managed to tie the game once again at 23-23, but Arkansas State powered through to win the opening set 25-23.
Arkansas State hit .318 as a team. Junior setter Lauren Musante led the Red Wolves in the first set with 10 assists and junior middle blocker Josie Stanford had six kills and two blocks.
Junior outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald led the way for Texas State with 10 kills (.667 hitting percentage).
The second set was even more competitive with 13 ties and 10 lead changes. Both teams struggled executing in the early going as Texas State went down 5-3 to start off. The errors continued for each side as the Bobcats came back to tie the game 7-7.
The teams settled in midway through the set and continued trade points. With Arkansas State up 18-16 coming out of timeout, the teams traded 3-0 runs to make the score 21-19. The Red Wolves would close out the set on a 6-1 run to take a 2-0 advantage.
With its win streak on the line, Texas State began the third set strong. Tied at 5-5, the Bobcats would go on a 9-2 scoring streak and take the lead 14-7. After a sloppy stretch of play by both teams, Texas State found itself up 22-14.
Desperate to sweep Texas State, the Red Wolves narrowed the deficit to 24-22 before committing an attacking error to give the set to the Bobcats.
Down 2-1 and having prevented the sweep, Texas State would still need to win two more sets to keep its undefeated streak in the Sun Belt alive. Neither team could pull away in the early going as the teams were tied at 9-9. After two kills by Fitzgerald and an error by the Red Wolves, Arkansas State called a timeout down 12-9.
After the Red Wolves came back to tie the game at 19-19, Texas State would close out the set on a 6-2 run to force the extra set. Fitzgerald continued her strong play in the fourth with nine kills on a .353 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Caitlan Buettner also played well for the Bobcats with six kills in the set.
Texas State dominated the final set from the very beginning. Tied at 3-3, the Bobcats went on a 10-0 run, including three kills and a solo block from Fitzgerald, to take a commanding 13-3 lead. A kill from senior middle blocker Tyeranee Scott put the set away 15-5 and sealed the 3-2 comeback win for Texas State.
Fitzgerald would finish with a new career-high 30 kills, which is tied for the most in a five-set match in the NCAA this season. She also matched her career-high for blocks with six.
Huiet was impressed with how Fitzgerald handled the defensive pressure in the tough win.
"Janell [Fitzgerald] had a big-time match," Huiet said. "Thirty kills is impressive and even more impressive that they were keying on her and she still produced."
Junior setter Emily DeWalt had her 13th double-double of the season with 52 assists and 17 digs. Junior libero Kayla Granado got it done defensively and matched her career-best 22 digs to go along with two aces.
For the Red Wolves, junior outside hitter Macy Putt had a double-double with 16 kills and 14 digs. Arkansas State, which is top of the conference in blocks, had four players with five or more blocks on its way to 16 total.
The game completes the three-game series between the teams as Texas State finishes the season undefeated on the road (9-0).
The Bobcats will close out the regular season against the University of Texas-Arlington (9-5 Sun Belt) Nov. 13-14 in Strahan Arena.