By Peyton Hill
After finishing a dominating season of 26 wins and 6 losses, the Texas State Women’s Volleyball team sought to win their first-ever NCAA Tournament game against the University of Rice this past Thursday. Coming out victorious three sets to one, Head Coach Karen Chisum and the Bobcats made program history once again.
The Texas State Volleyball team looked to compete fiercely in the NCAA Tournament as they took on the Rice Owls whom they had beaten earlier in the season 3-2. Opening the first set, the Bobcats attempted to pull away early until Rice went on a run to tie it at eight. After a series of jabs from both teams, the Bobcats started to pull away again leading 15-12 in the set; that is until Rice took a strategic timeout and went on an 8-3 run to barrel their way to a 19-17 lead. Holding their momentum, Rice took the first set 25-23 over the ‘Cats. Even though Rice won the first set, they were still behind in kills, assists, digs, and blocks.
Entering the second set, junior transfer Cheyenne Huskey’s offensive presence was felt as the Bobcats gained an early lead of 8-4. Picking up some massive momentum the Bobcats took a 17-12 lead after an amazing save from the libero Micah Dinwiddie. Texas State ultimately took the second set 25-22 tying the game at one set apiece. This marked their first set win in the NCAA tournament in over a decade. At the end of the second set, the Bobcats held an advantage in kills, digs, and assists.
Going into the third set, both teams came out of the gate firing on all cylinders acquiring four ties within the first ten points. The Bobcats kept going up by three points, then the Owls would go on a solid run keeping an aggressive pace. With the game tied at 16 and the audience pushed to their feet, Chisum pressed close to the net and forced the Owls to make a few errors giving them a 22-18 advantage. With two more kills, the Bobcats took set three 25-22 and the advantage in their first tournament game of the season.
The Texas State Volleyball team still maintained a lead in kills, digs, and assists going into the fourth and final set. Huskey, who has now played in three NCAA tournaments, helped the Bobcats take an early lead of 9-5 in the fourth set. After another efficient timeout by the Owls, they went on a steady run to go up 12-10 on the Bobcats. A neck-and-neck competition, the Rice Owls created two back-to-back kills to push their lead to 18-14. Tied at 24, Rice came through with a kill from Grace Morgan that was quickly answered by senior Amy Pflughaupt to keep the nail-biting match alive. Middle blocker Madison Daigle sealed the game with a block and a kill to give the Bobcats their first NCAA Tournament win ever.
Going down in the first set, the Bobcats turned to Huskey to help carry their team to victory, she did not disappoint as she finished with a career high in points (23) and digs (12). Continuing their amazing display of volleyball, the Bobcats take on the University of Texas Nov. 30th at 8p.m. The Longhorns, a team the ‘Cats haven’t beaten since 2000, will be the biggest challenge they face yet. But, the team will be looking to redeem themselves with a squad that Chisum said could be “the best group of girls she’s ever coached.”
Featured Image by Ethan Hunt.