By Stephanie Soto
The Texas State Volleyball team concludes this weekend by winning back-to-back games against the identical conference record team the Troy Trojans. The Friday game ended 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-19), and the Saturday game 3-1 as well (19-25, 25-19, 25-16).
The Bobcats and Trojans’ prior conference record before the game was 10-2. The Bobcats advanced to a 20-6 overall record and the Trojans fell to 16-10.
On Friday evening, it was a heartfelt emotional start as seniors, along with Head Coach Sean Huiet, were recognized for their hard work and dedication to the program. In total, there will be nine volleyball senior graduates.
The following seniors are #2 Emily Smylie, #4 Jada Gardner, #5 Tessa Marshall, #8 Julian Slaughter, #13 Courtney Heiser, #16 Janell Fitzgerald, #17 Emily DeWalt, #18 Lauren Teske and #22 Kayla Tello.
“It means the world to me to coach these players,” Huiet said. “It’s not over, we are going to win that conference tournament.”
The first game started slow for the Bobcats as they struggled to execute the kill. The Trojans led with a three-point run at the start of the first set. Texas State struggled to block down the line against Trojan outside hitters but eventually worked back up to take the first set.
In the second set, the Trojans took the lead as the Bobcats could not recover the ball after hitting into the Trojan’s solid blocks. It was minor errors of missed serves and hitting the ball out that gave Troy the second set.
The Bobcats bounced back in the third set, putting pressure on the Trojan’s defense and targeting players on where to attack the ball. The Trojans struggled to pick up attacks as they kept shanking the ball out of bounds.
The fourth set was delayed due to water dripping through the ceiling onto the Trojan’s side of the court as Texas State was leading 10-4. Texas State maintained the lead and scored the majority of their overall aces in the fourth set, winning 3-1.
Saturday afternoon’s game was not a game you would want to miss. The first set started with both teams scoring by back-to-back massive solid blocks at the net that set the high momentum for both teams. The Trojans took the first set, dominating cross-court shots from Trojan outside hitters #1 Aminah Butler and #10 Tori Hester.
After losing the first set, the Bobcats came back and redeemed themselves as they dominated on serves, totaling up an overall 11 aces. The Trojan’s serve-receive defense had a shallow pattern in which they were too far up to where the Bobcats focused on targeting serving deep back corners.
“During practice, we knew going into this game we wanted to get them out of system by serving aggressively,” Huiet said.
Texas State dominated the third set with a 6-0 lead, with everyone on the Bobcat court side embracing high energy. Bobcat starting setter, #17 Emily DeWalt was in control of the court by continuously scoring with pushes to the deep back corner making the trojans dive out onto the floor and dumping the ball in spots the opposing team could not get to.
The Bobcats ended any chance for the Trojans to come back. The last set was bittersweet as the seniors put everything out onto the court, and the crowd was loving every second of it. The Trojans lacked confidence and were struggling defensively to read the Bobcat’s hits and tips right over the block.
There was an incident during the middle of the fourth set on the court where #1 outside hitter Aminah Butler was trying to tip a tight ball across the net but landed under the net, which is a violation that the up official did not call. DeWalt, captain of the team, quickly rushed to tell the up official. #18 outside hitter, Lauren Teske, supported DeWalt in talking to the official, but since she is not a captain, she was given a yellow card. The crowd had a huge reaction in which everyone thought the yellow card went to DeWalt. Teske and DeWalt were not upset but confused and laughed at the call.
“I was just nervous because she was coming under the net, and I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Teske said. “I didn’t know I got the yellow card. I had to ask Emily and she’s like, ‘no girl that was you.’”
The Bobcats swept the Trojans 25-7 in the fourth set. Everyone was on their feet and ran down to the court to celebrate. Many of the players were emotional in saying their final words at their last home game.
“These past five years have been an amazing ride,” Teske said. “The biggest thing that we will take from this is the friendships and the people that supported us.”
Texas State will play its final regular season match against Coastal California University in Santa Ana California next week.
Written by: Hannah Walls