Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats sweep Coastal Carolina, earn No. 2 seed in conference tournament
Texas State finished out the regular season with a hard fought sweep over the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, winning Thursday’s match, 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-7) and Friday’s game also at 3-2 (25-20, 21-25, 17-25, 25-22, 15-10).
Heading into their showdown, Head Volleyball Coach Sean Huiet talked about not leaving anything up to chance as the Bobcats were still in contention for the Sun Belt Regular Season title.
“We talked earlier that we didn’t want to be sitting at the airport saying, ‘What if?’,” Huiet said. “If [James Madison] wins both, congratulations to them, but we didn’t want to say what if and walk out of here with a loss and what we needed to happen happens. So, we talked a little bit about it, but didn’t want to over talk about it.”
As Texas State trailed heading into the fourth set down 2-1 on Thursday, the Bobcats were inspired by the words of their assistant coach.
“Going into the fourth set, (assistant coach) Keith (Anderson) reminded them that we were playing for something,” Huiet said. “That’s how we started the fifth: we are playing for a championship; we said, ‘no what ifs.’”
The Bobcats rallied to take the fourth set at 25-22 before knocking off Coastal 15-10 in the fifth set to preserve the win.
As senior outside hitter Lauren Teske explained, Texas State knew the Chanticleers were not going to give up that easily and that the victory will be used going forward in the conference tournament.
“I just think we knew that Coastal (Carolina) wasn’t going to just give it to us,” Teske said. “(Coach Huiet) just said we had to find a way no matter who was out on the court. Coastal is a really good team, so we knew we were going to be in for a challenge all weekend. But, through it all, it feels really good to have earned the win today going into the conference tournament next week.”
But the Bobcats win wasn’t the only significant accomplishment over the weekend.
In a year which saw Emily DeWalt become the all-time leader in assists in Sun Belt Conference history and Janell Fitzgerald became the all-time leader in kills in Texas State history, senior Jada Gardner etched her name in the record books as well by recording her 1,000th kill.
It was part of a 22-kill game for Gardner as the senior helped lead the Bobcats to their 3-2 win over Coastal Carolina on Friday.
“Yeah, (Jada) reaching that milestone is so awesome,” Huiet said. “I knew she was getting close, but not only did she reach that milestone, but she also finished the match with 22 kills with a .409 attack percentage. She’s playing really well down the stretch, and we need her to, so I’m very proud of her.”
After the game, Gardner said her senior season was an opportunity to enjoy her career spent playing collegiate volleyball.
“I’m just playing free (right now) and just having fun,” Gardner said. “I’ve realized I don’t have much longer to do this, so I’m just trying to go out there and having fun and trying to enjoy the moment, enjoying my teammates and just playing free. I was joking with someone earlier that (getting my 1,000th kill) finally happened because it only took six years, but it’s exciting.”
Texas State will enter the Sun Belt Volleyball Tournament as the No. 2 seed behind James Madison.
The Bobcats will play the winner of App State-Louisiana on Friday, Nov.8 at 7:30 p.m. in Foley, Ala.