I personally had a rough weekend from a fan perspective. College football starting in Austin and San Marcos had me jazzed for football season and the hope of better times. Sadly, San Marcos High School, UT and Texas State football all took Ls this weekend. Who better to catch me while I fall than Bobcat volleyball?
The Bobcats came back nicely from being swept in Waco by three different top-40 teams and earned an assortment of Ws (dubs, for the hip kids) that welcomed all Bobcat fans and observers to the newly renovated Strahan Arena at the University Events Center. The Bobcats were set to host the 2018 Creeds & Crests Classic. The first obstacle in their way: UTSA. That means it’s time to rage.
UTSA vs. TXST
Texas State was coming into the match winless with something to prove against their rivals. The Roadrunners were looking for a challenge after sweeping their opening weekend to win the Army Invitational. Give the Bobcats a rival with a perfect record and that’s all the motivation these ‘Cats needed. The Bobcats started off the match with their first set victory of the season behind a six-kill start for OH Amy Pflughaupt. Pflughaupt would finish with 11 kills in the victory over UTSA. However, it was the combined excellence of MB Madison Daigle and OH Cheyenne Huskey teaming up for 31 kills (the 16-kill performance for Daigle ties her career best) while receiving a 10-kill performance from new Bobcat freshmen OH Janell Fitzgerald and 44 assists from setter Emily DeWalt. All these factored into a 3-1 match victory for the Bobcats’ 57th win over the UTSA in the history of their rivalry while preventing the ‘Runners from earning their first win in Strahan since 2011.
JMU vs. TXST
The James Madison Dukes rolled into their match versus Texas State feeling good after a 4-1 start to their season. The Dukes are ranked 13th in the VolleyballMag.com Mid-Major Poll after competing in the NCAA championship two years in a row. But once more the Bobcats brought out their best effort to take the match 3-1 over the #13 Dukes behind one of Pflughaupt’s most efficient performances as a Bobcat. The senior from El Campo, TX finished with a season-high 18 kills off 36 total attacks with three blocks on the outside to spearhead a Bobcat 3-1 match win. Add in another double-double from Huskey along with the second 10-kill performance from Fitzgerald and the Dukes couldn’t put them up for very long.
Incarnate Word vs. TXST
Now you’d feel like the Bobcats were in the home stretch. One more win and they clinch the tournament championship in front of the hometown fans. Who better to push through than a winless Cardinals team? The answer would still be the Cardinals after a rather challenging 3-0 sweep for the Bobcats led by the same group of usual suspects. Huskey would lead the team with 13 kills off just 27 attacks while blocking five from the Cardinals and you start to see how comfortable Huskey is becoming as a outside attacker rather than the set piece of the offense. Meanwhile, the freshman Emily DeWalt brought home a double-double with 36 assists and 10 digs to fortify the Bobcat interior alongside libero Micah Dinwiddie’s 3rd 10+ dig performance of the weekend. But can you expect anything less from the reining SBC Defensive Player of the Year? Not after setting the school record with 599 digs last season.
Abilene Christian vs. TXST
Texas State was on top of the tournament regardless of this last match against the ACU Wildcats. That doesn’t mean the match itself lacked intensity. In fact, the Wildcats slapped the Bobcats after TXST’s opening 25-20 set win by coming back from a 16-11 deficit to steal the 2nd set, 25-22. The biggest reason for the turn? The Bobcats’ inability to attack from the sides against ACU’s own patrol of MBs Lorin McNeil and Lauren Walker. Alas, the good times for ACU would not last and the Bobcats would ride out of the weekend with a 3-1 match victory behind a standout effort from DeWalt and Micah Dinwiddie finishing with a season-best 32 digs for a perfect home opening weekend.
Bobcats Bring It Home before the Challenge Ahead
Texas State gave the Bobcat believers something to enjoy this weekend. Daigle and Fitzgerald were honored with all-tournament team nods while Emily DeWalt earned the tournament MVP after posting four double-doubles with at least 35 assists in each win. Fans came out and walked away knowing just how good this Bobcat team can be when faced with adversity. The pressure and gloom from opening weekend in Waco seems to have made this young Bobcat team tougher and the results showed this weekend after holding their opponents to a combined .141 attack percentage and collecting 73 more kills than their challengers. This weekend was pivotal since next week the Bobcats will have to visit the Rice Owls along with the nationally ranked Texas Longhorns in Austin before hosting the Kentucky Wildcats next Saturday. However, one thing is certain: this Bobcat team can compete with the best of teams and if players like Amy Pflughaupt (whom Head Coach Karen Chisum said is one of the Bobcats not playing 100 percent healthy) can continue to stay on the court while the freshman studs profiles trend up… then this team is built to last for the long haul of bringing home a championship.
Featured photo by Justin Manor.