Photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats hang on in long opening set, sweep Trojans
The score was tied 15 times.
Texas State rallied back from being down 21-17 in its opening set against Troy on Friday inside Strahan Arena. The Bobcats took a 26-25 lead for the first time of the night. Head coach Karen Chisum sent junior libero Brooke Johnson in for sophomore middle blocker Jillian Slaughter for the team’s last swap of the frame — Chisum had already burned through her 15 substitutions for the set.
The group of Johnson, sophomore setter Emily DeWalt, senior defensive specialists Micah Dinwiddie and Rylie Fuentes and outside hitters Cheyenne Huskey and Lauren Teske stayed on the floor for the rest of the set. The hosts gained a one-point edge three consecutive times, but the visitors kept knotting the score back up. The Trojans jumped in front another seven times, but Texas State never let them escape with a two-point lead.
The Bobcats took a 36-35 advantage with a kill from senior outside hitter Cheyenne Huskey, assisted by sophomore setter Emily DeWalt. DeWalt approached the service line and launched the ball toward Troy’s side of the hardwood.
“To be honest, I thought it was out,” DeWalt said. “But thank God that it was in.”
The serve grazed the inside of the end line for an ace, concluding the longest set for Texas State since a 41-39 win in the second frame at UT Arlington on Nov. 3, 2009. The Bobcats (15-7, 7-1 Sun Belt) rode the momentum to earn their fifth-straight sweep over the Trojans (15-4, 5-2), 3-0 (37-35, 25-16, 25-13).
“I told the kids right there at the end, that first set was pure (defense), guts, character and belief in a team,” Chisum said. “Because we probably shouldn't have won the first set … But they believed and they worked together. That's a team, that's a team. I was really proud of that.”
Chisum said after the team’s last match, a 3-0 home win against Georgia Southern, she wanted to see better blocking by her front line. The team spent the week working on rejecting shots at the net, especially on the outside.
Texas State swatted four attempts in the first game of the night against Troy. They added another 10 in the final two to tie the team’s season-high of 14. The visitors’ hitting percentage dropped from .213 in the opening frame to .071 in the second and -.047 in the third.
“They've got to set the block first. And then they gotta penetrate and not be weak and passive and let the ball not get down. And it was good,” Chisum said. “It's nice to see something you work on come along and get better in the game.”
Huskey finished the match with a team-best 18 kills, 11 digs and three aces. DeWalt dished out 38 assists while junior middle blocker Tyeranee Scott chipped in six blocks.
The Bobcats will play at home again Saturday when they host South Alabama at 6:30 p.m. The team will look to build on its hot streak during a quick turnaround.
“I think just all-around, playing together, we had very good practices this week,” DeWalt said. “And so I think that we worked hard all week and that helped us prepare for a faster-paced game.”