The Bobcats took their talents to Dallas to square off in the SMU Invitational this past weekend.
They did not achieve the undefeated success of the Lamar Invitational but did sweep SMU, a Conference USA member, in straight sets. Texas State remained competitive in its losses against Auburn and Wichita State to drop to 5-6 on the season.
Coach Karen Chisum liked that the team showed a more tenacious spirit this weekend, and that its SMU victory gave the players a much-needed boost.
“I think that SMU match really helped us as far as confidence,” Chisum said. “Beating another team in another good conference helps tremendously.”
This was a win the Bobcats needed, although SMU (2-7) might not have a powerhouse program. Auburn and Wichita State, on the other hand, have two rigorous programs that know what Division I volleyball is all about.
“We played Auburn and Wichita State decent,” Chisum said. “We didn’t fold. They were just bigger and faster than we were, and that’s all there is to it.”
Auburn has a record of 9-1 on the season and its only loss came in the tournament to Wichita State, which ended up heading back to Kansas as tournament champions. Chisum said the Auburn loss caused Texas State to have an imperative reality check, because the team has been accustomed to winning for quite some time.
“After we lost our first match to Auburn we sat down and had a really serious talk,” Chisum said. “So coming into SMU we kind of saw a different mentality: a bit more of a competitive fight, and that’s what we have to have. We have to fight.”
One Bobcat fought her way to the all-tournament team award for the second consecutive week. Sophomore outside hitter Alexandra Simms led the team with 32 efficient kills, hitting over .371 for the weekend.
Simms is having her best year as a Bobcat, leading the team in kills with 115.
“The coaches told me to step up,” Simms said. “They wanted me to step up and be more aggressive and control the outside.”
Sophomore labero Laura Whalen led the team with 24 digs, and junior middle blocker Ashlee Hilbun led the team with five blocks. Senior setter Caleigh McCorquodale led the team in assists with a total of 65 in Dallas.
Chisum said McCorquodale did a lot more for the team than set players on the court, and that she pointed back to a crucial point in time after the Auburn loss.
“After that Auburn loss, Caleigh stepped up and really said some things that I think some of the younger players needed to hear,” Chisum said. “She’s a real leader.”
She proved herself after speaking to teammates, managing to rack up a 35-assist performance in their three-set SMU victory.
“One of our gym-culture statements is every touch matters,” Chisum said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the first touch, the serve, the set, the defense. Every touch matters, and so you have to better the ball every time. I think we saw a lot more of that this weekend.”