No. 15 Texas State volleyball (21-2 overall, 15-1 Sun Belt) defeated the University of Louisiana at Monroe (1-21 overall, 0-16 Sun Belt) in straight sets (25-18, 25-14, 25-17) in the first match of pool play in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Nov. 18.
The Sun Belt has adopted a pool system for its conference tournament this season. The winner from each of the four pools will go on to the semifinals. Texas State is in Pool C with the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of South Alabama. The winner of Pool C will face the winner of Pool B in the semifinals.
Texas State last faced ULM three times Sept. 25-26. The Bobcats swept the Warhawks 3-0 in all three matches and continued similar success this time around.
ULM started the first set going up 2-0, but Texas State quickly came to form and put together a 5-1 run to gain the lead at 5-3. Ahead 9-7, the Bobcats made an 8-1 run to bring the score to 17-8 leading to a ULM timeout.
ULM and Texas State went back and forth for the remainder of the set with neither team putting together significant scoring runs. The deficit was too much for the Warhawks to come back from as the Maroon and Gold took the first set 25-18.
In the second set, ULM once again jumped ahead early taking a 5-2 lead. The Bobcats responded with a 9-1 run to take the lead at 11-6. The Warhawks called a timeout to regroup, but that did not slow down Texas State for long. After ULM closed the deficit to 15-11, the 'Cats went on a 10-3 run to close out the set 25-14 and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Warhawks created a sense of deja vu in the third set, starting with a 7-4 lead. Despite being behind early yet again, the Bobcats came back with a massive 11-2 run to take a commanding 15-9 lead. The Warhawks were competitive for the remainder of the set but were unable to take the lead as six errors by ULM gifted Texas State easy points down the stretch. The Bobcats grabbed the final set 25-17 to complete the 3-0 sweep and win the match.
For the third time this season, Texas State registered eight aces in the match. Head Coach Sean Huiet is happy with his team's play in the opening match and says strong serving helped it pull away.
"I thought it was a great start to the tournament," Huiet said. "We started slow in the first two sets, but I thought we served very well and that helped separate ourselves.
For the Bobcats, junior outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald led the team with nine kills (.292 hitting percentage) to go along with two blocks. Junior middle blocker Jillian Slaughter had seven kills, a team-high three blocks, and a .511 hitting percentage. Junior setter Emily DeWalt had her 16th double-double of the season with 27 assists and 13 digs. Sophomore defensive specialist Michelle Foster had a career-high 12 digs.
Texas State managed to have an impressive hitting percentage of .311 versus ULM's .116.
ULM committed a total of 19 attacking errors while Texas State had 10. ULM also had nine service errors, five coming in the first set. Texas State had five service errors in the whole match.
For ULM, junior outside hitter Cali Assaley led the way with a match-high 12 kills. Freshman defensive specialist/setter Karson Davis was productive on both ends, finishing with 19 assists, eight digs and two blocks. Sophomore libero Madeline Hogan led the Warhawks defensively with 11 digs.
Texas State will conclude pool play against South Alabama at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 in Foley, Alabama.