By Garrett Martin
Coach Karen Chisum and her squad of Bobcats took on the Liberty Flames in the first regular volleyball match of the season at Strahan Arena, beating the Flames in four sets.
Just last year, Chisum led the ‘Cats to a Sun Belt Championship and their first NCAA tournament win in Texas State’s history. Now in her 40th season coaching the Bobcats, she returns many of their key players from the 2018 campaign.
Senior Cheyenne Huskey was named the Sun Belt offensive player of the year after recording 358 kills last season, senior Micah Dinwiddie was named the defensive player of the year after recording 467 digs and sophomore Emily Dewalt received Sun Belt setter of the year honors after her very successful and efficient freshman season setting up the offensive attack.
On the other side of the court, the Liberty Flames play in the Athletic Sun Conference with notable NCAA tournament opponents in their schedule like Florida, Washington State and Florida Gulf Coast University. The Flames join nationally ranked USC Trojans and Northern Iowa Panthers in a slew of talented opponents visiting San Marcos this weekend.
The battle began with a 25-13 set victory by the Bobcats highlighted by four different four-plus point runs. Redshirt freshman Lauren Teske left the match with a sprained ankle early in this set. Fortunately, she was able to walk off the court without aid from the training staff and was replaced by sophomore Janell Fitzgerald.
In the second set, Liberty challenged Texas State’s momentum with some of her own. The Bobcats and the Flames battled in a set that included six ties and five lead changes throughout. One of the ties included a 24-24 score with an attack error in favor of Liberty. That’s when senior hitter Anna Gragg ended the set for the Flames.
After a challenging, lost set against the Flames, the ‘Cats rallied a very competitive set. Huskey and freshman Courtney Heiser each had six kills to win a crucial set and take a 2-1 set advantage.
Then having a 2-1 lead, Texas State kept the point differential very wide in the match-clinching set never allowing less than three points to separate the two squads. The experience and chemistry on the Bobcats was evident, ending this set with a comfortable 25-18 margin.
The Bobcats will take on nationally ranked USC later this evening, and they will take on the Northern Iowa Panthers Saturday night at 7 p.m., both at Strahan Arena. You can catch Saturday night’s game on KTSW 89.9 covered by members of KTSW sports.
Featured image by Jude McClaren.