After defeating the Troy Trojans in the quarterfinals on Friday, Texas State volleyball will face the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Echoing memories of past tournaments, this will be the third straight meeting between the two teams at the conference tournament. The two meetings prior were in the final round of the tournament, both of which the Bobcats won.
Texas State has a 6-3 all-time record against Coastal and has won the last five matchups. In their previous matchup on Oct. 22, the Bobcats beat the Chants 3-0 (25-22, 25-12, 25-19).
The contest will be one of great offense versus great defense. In the conference, Texas State ranks No. 1 in kills per set (13.75) and assists per set (12.86) and No. 2 in hitting percentage (.249). Coastal is No. 1 in blocks per set (2.51) and allows the least kills (11.26) and assists per set (10.46). Despite their defensive prowess, the Chants also lead the Sun Belt in hitting percentage (.255) and are second in kills per set (13.13).
Both squads have a combined eight players on the Sun Belt’s All-Conference team.
For Texas State, senior setter Emily DeWalt and senior outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald were named to the first team, while senior middle blocker Tyeranee Scott and graduate hitter Jada Gardner made the second team. DeWalt was also named the Sun Belt Player of the Year and Setter of the Year. Fitzgerald won Offensive Player of the Year.
For Coastal, senior outside hitter Ani Bozdeva made it to the first team, while graduate outside hitters Doris Carter and Cheyenne Jones and junior setter Brigitta Petrenko were named to the second team. Jones was also awarded Newcomer of the Year.
The Chants, No. 2 seed in the East Division, defeated the No. 3 West Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 3-0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-20). As the No. 1 seed in the West, the Bobcats received a first-round bye before playing the Trojans (17-12 overall, 9-7 Sun Belt), who were No. 4 in the East.
The 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-19) win was the 50th of second-year Head Coach Sean Huiet’s career. Despite having concerns about the Bobcats’ ability to dominate coming out of the bye, he said the victory quelled many of them.
"It's always good to get that first win,” Huiet said. “I like when you have the bye, because your program is able to get a little more rest ... it feels like we've been here for a couple of days with just practicing. You always get a little nervous, though, with that bye, because if a team gets hot and gets going a little bit, that can cause some issues. I thought Troy played really well yesterday, so tonight was good; a little sluggish at times but it was a good match to get us going
to start what we want to do this weekend."
Texas State will face Coastal Carolina in the semi-final round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Foley Sports Complex in Foley, Alabama. The contest will air on ESPN+.