No. 11 Texas State volleyball (20-2 overall, 15-1 Sun Belt) will begin the Sun Belt Conference Championship tournament against the University of Louisiana-Monroe (1-20 overall, 0-16 Sun Belt) at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 in Foley, Alabama.
The conference tournament will begin with three days of pool play with the Bobcats in Pool C. As the No. 1 seed in the West Division, Texas State will face the No. 6 seed of the West Division (University of Louisiana at Monroe), and the No. 4 seed of the East Division (University of South Alabama).
In the Bobcats' final game of the season, they were swept 3-0 by UT-Arlington on Nov. 14. The loss cost the team a share of the conference regular-season title and ended its 17-game win streak.
Despite suffering such a devastating defeat late in the season, the Bobcats’ Head Coach, Sean Huiet, is confident that it won’t hinder the team’s chances of winning its third straight conference championship.
“[The loss] doesn’t change what we’ve done to this point,” Huiet said. “It doesn’t change the culture and what we’re doing in our program. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity this season, and I think that’s only gonna help us going into the conference tournament.”
ULM has had a difficult season up until this point. Despite winning its first match against Lamar Sept. 11, the Warhawks have since gone on to lose their next 20 matches, including the 16 against Sun Belt opponents.
The last time these two teams faced each other was Sept. 25-26, when Texas State reigned supreme with three 3-0 sweeps.
The Warhawks rank last in the Sun Belt in hitting percentage (.086), opponent hitting percentage (.234), average assists per set (9.39), average kills per set (10.17), average blocks per set (1.44) and average aces per set (0.96).
Texas State will conclude pool play facing South Alabama (7-13 overall, 7-9 Sun Belt) Nov. 20. This will be the first match between the two teams this season.
South Alabama started the season with a 7-4 record in the Sun Belt before dropping five straight to end the season 7-9.
Out of the 12 teams in the Sun Belt, South Alabama ranks 11th in average assists per set (9.54), 10th in average kills per set (10.61) and average digs per set (13.62). The Jaguars rank 11th in average blocks per set (1.81).
Notable players for the Jaguars are freshman middle blocker Rebecca Walk, sophomore setter Maddie Soboleski, and junior libero Rachel Hickey. Walk leads the Sun Belt in hitting percentage (.381), Soboleski is eighth in the conference in average assists per set (7.94) and eighth in average aces per set (0.33), and Hickey ranks eighth in average digs per set (4.43).
As for Texas State, it ranks first in the Sun Belt in kills with 1,110 (14.42 per set) and assists with 1040 (13.51 per set). The team ranks second in the conference in total blocks with 168 and total digs with 1,324. The Bobcats' hitting percentage of .249, and an opponent hitting percentage of .145 are second-best in the conference.
In hitting percentage, junior outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald (.351) and senior middle blocker Tyeranee Scott (.344) rank second and third in the Sun Belt. Fitzgerald also has the second-most kills in the conference with 293.
Junior setter Emily DeWalt ranks first in average assists per set with 11.47 and second in total assists with 872 in the conference.
On average aces per set, senior setter Brooke Johnson (0.34) and sophomore libero Michelle Foster (0.32) rank sixth and tenth in the conference, respectively.
Junior libero Kayla Granado’s 320 digs rank sixth in the conference.
At the end of pool play, the winner of Pool C will play the winner of Pool B in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 21.