By Garrett Martin
Head coach Karen Chisum and the Bobcats took down the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns in four sets at Strahan Arena on Friday night. The crowd of 1,400 was able to watch a stellar Bobcat team recover after a poor second set and dominate the remaining two sets with fundamental team play.
Last season, the Bobcats beat the Ragin Cajuns in four sets after trading the first two. The Cajuns finished 15-15 with a 7-9 record in conference play in last year’s campaign. Ragin Cajun head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot had led them to a 4-9 record thus far in 2019, all four of their wins coming at home.
In Friday night’s matchup, the Bobcats and Cajuns traded the first two sets once again.
In the first set, the ‘Cats and the Cajuns traded more mistakes than kills. While the Bobcats had more errors in the opening set, their kill percentage spiked.
With the set tied at 8, senior outside hitter Cheyenne Huskey took over. Huskey put the Bobcats in a position to take the lead in the middle of the set with four kills that brought them out of a tie at 8.
Further in the set, Texas State forced set point at a 24-20 advantage when Lafayette stormed back into the ball game and cut their deficit to one. It was attacking errors that allowed the ‘Cats to lose their four-point advantage late in the first set, but a dominant kill by freshman outside hitter Courtney Heiser secured the opening set victory for the Maroon and Gold.
The second set had the tide swinging back and forth between these conference opponents once again. Heiser and sophomore outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald both had effective performances in the first half of the second set, but errors kept the Bobcats from maintaining dominance the remainder of the set.
The ‘Cats and the Cajuns both had 15 kills, but the Bobcats committed too many errors to win the set outright. They surrendered the second set 25-21.
KTSW sports reporter Shamar Mims asked what Chisum had to say to her team in between sets, specifically after losing the second set. Chisum said, “Relax, let’s take care of the ball. Believe in yourself, you’re very good. We are good. You’ve got to believe that and make it happen.“
From there on, it was Texas State’s game to lose. A superb team performance in the third set highlighted by effective play from Fitzgerald and Heiser led to a 25-13 set victory. Among the dominant team play, Heiser was 5 for 7 in kills and kill attempts respectively, while Fitzgerald was 6 for 9.
The Ragin Cajuns wouldn’t back down easily in the fourth set. Once tied 8-8 again, the Bobcats took eleven out of the next 15 points awarded. However, a solid run kept the set close and wore down the ‘Cats lead from seven to three, bringing the score in the fourth to 21-18.
Chisum called a timeout to stop the Cajun run at one point and regrouped her squad. With the help of Huskey and the amazing passing from sophomore setter Emily DeWalt, Texas State handled Louisiana Lafayette in the fourth and final set of the contest 25-20.
“It’s hard not to win when you got Emily [DeWalt] setting like she does, and Cheyenne’s [Huskey] on a roll like she was tonight,” Chisum said. “Courtney Heiser, our little freshmen, did a great job, and we had three in double digits in kills tonight.”
Final stats from the Bobcats: Heiser had 13 kills. Fitzgerald had 15 kills. Huskey had a team-high 21 kills on the night, while DeWalt orchestrated the passing game for the ‘Cats with 46 assists.
Janell said after the game, “We got better in everything we needed to. We just got better, 1% better every day [in practice] and that showed today.”
On Sunday, Texas State hosts the other Louisiana Sun Belt team, the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The Warhawks are 9-6 overall with a 5-2 record on neutral ground, however their record away from home is 2-4.
We’ll have live coverage on the floor of Strahan Arena with play-by-play from Connor MacKinnon and color commentary from Mason Moore. Pregame coverage will begin at 11:45 a.m. with first serve at noon.
Follow us on twitter @KTSWSports for more coverage of everything Texas State and San Marcos High School sports.
Featured image by Garrett Martin.