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Texas State junior middle blocker Jillian Slaughter (8) prepares to spike the ball, Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 3-0.

Texas State volleyball (31-8 overall, 15-1 Sun Belt) defeated the Utah Valley University Wolverines (14-6 overall, 12-4 WAC) 3-1 (25-21, 25-16, 20-25, 25-22) in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

This is the Bobcats’ second-ever tournament victory with the first occurring on Nov. 29, 2018. The win also marks the third time they reached 31 wins in a season and the first time since 1982.

Texas State started hot early in the first set as a kill by senior middle blocker Tyeranee Scott gave it an 8-3 lead. 

The Bobcats were up by as much as 15-8 before the Wolverine went on an 8-4 run to cut the deficit to three, 19-16. Texas State’s dominance prevailed and the team won the set 25-21.

The Maroon and Gold started even better in the second set as it led 12-4 early in the period. The Wolverines managed to cut into the lead as they went on a 3-0 run to bring the score to 14-9.

Texas State responded with a 5-0 run bringing the score to 20-10. Utah Valley managed to eat into the lead by bringing the score to 22-15 but the Bobcats grabbed the set 25-16 off a kill by sophomore outside hitter Caitlan Buettner.

The Wolverines found their stride in the third set as they led 6-2 early. They brought their lead to 14-8 before the Bobcats scored three unanswered points. The Wolverines kept their composure and went ahead 18-12.

Later in the set, Texas State went on a 4-1 run capped off by a kill from junior outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald to bring the score to 21-19. Even then, Utah Valley came back with a 4-1 run of its own to win the set 25-20 and avoid the sweep.

Now with the match score at 2-1, Texas State dominated the early portion of the fourth set as it led 6-0. The Bobcats even had a 7-3 run finished off with a kill from Buettner to bring the score to 18-6 leading to a Utah Valley timeout. 

Soon after the break, the Wolverines managed to pull off a 10-3 run to cut Texas State’s massive lead to one point with the score at 22-21. The Bobcats were forced to call a timeout in this situation.

Even though they found some momentum in the set, the Wolverines committed three costly errors that gave Texas State not only the set 25-22 but also the match.

The Bobcats finished the match with a .238 hitting percentage, 59 kills and 52 assists compared to the Wolverines’ .154 hitting percentage, 46 kills and 41 assists.

The Bobcats had three players with double-digit kills: Buettner (15), Scott (14) and Fitzgerald (13). Junior setter Emily DeWalt grabbed her 23rd double-double of the year with 45 assists and 10 digs. Junior libero Kayla Granado led both teams with 20 digs.

Texas State will go on to face the No. 5 seed University of Nebraska at 2:30 p.m. on April 15 at the CHI Health Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska. This match will be broadcasted on ESPN3.

 

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