The Texas State volleyball team began WAC play last week looking to improve on a 5-6 overall record against the San Jose State Spartans and the Utah State Aggies.
The Bobcats split the weekend, defeating San Jose State last Thursday and losing to Utah State on Saturday. They now have a 6-7 record for the season (1-1 in the WAC).
Against the Spartans, the Bobcats managed to win not only their first match in the WAC but the first conference WAC game of any Texas State sport.
The Bobcats won the first set 25-23, lost the second 22-25, and won the next two 25-23 and 28-26.
Coach Karen Chisum said the win is already one of the most noteworthy memories of her long and decorated career. It is not the first time the volleyball team ushered Texas State into a new era with a win.
“To get the first WAC win in our program is huge to me,” Chisum said. “If you think back from when we went from SWT to Texas State, we had a win versus Weber State that was the first win for ‘Texas State University’ and its new name. That was pretty neat, and all of the ‘firsts’ are special to me.”
The match against San Jose State was competitive through every set, featuring 34 tie scores and 18 lead changes.
Freshman defensive specialist Sierra Smith had two aces and 11 digs. She said the game was an important win to obtain to start out conference play and felt honored to have been given the chance.
“It was really exciting,” Smith said. “I’m glad that Chisum gave me the opportunity. If I was on the bench, then I’d contribute anything I can, but being on the court is just a completely different experience, and I appreciate it.”
Senior Caleigh McCorquodale and sophomore Caylin Mahoney, both setters, notched 21 and 14 assists respectively in this match.
Junior middle blocker Ashlee Hilbun led the team with 13 digs and was second in kills with seven.
“(The win) started us off strong,” Hilbun said. “Just showing us that we can do this. We’re ready to play. We’re in the WAC now, when (games) matter. Preseason doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
The second match of the weekend was against Utah State. The Bobcats lost its first two sets 23-25 and 15-25. The final set went five points past regulation before Texas State fell 27-29 and lost the match.
Chisum said the Bobcats had issues with consistency, and they needed their outside hitters to improve.
“They weren’t terminating the ball, and we were just inconsistent,” Chisum said. “We stuck with them. Utah State was definitely better, and it shows that we can compete with them. We just have to be able to terminate, play aggressive and with that gritty nature.”
The two setters had another good match as McCorquodale notched her fourth double-double of the season, finishing with 14 assists and a team-high 15 digs. Meanwhile, Mahoney led the Bobcats with 21 assists to go along with four kills.
Sophomore outside hitter Alexandra Simms led the team with 10 kills. She has led the team in kills eight of the last 13 matches. Junior middle blocker Amari Deardorff also posted 10 kills.
Next, the team will face UTSA in the rivalry of I-35. The match will take place on Friday, Sept. 21 and will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Follow Jordan Cole on Twitter: @TXStatesman