The Texas State volleyball team and Coach Karen Chisum got a potentially season-defining victory over New Mexico State Aggies Saturday with a five set comeback, but then lost in straight sets Monday night.
The Aggies were atop the WAC before Saturday’s game began, and Monday’s loss put the Bobcats in a tie for fifth place with San Jose State in the WAC Conference standings. Texas State defeated the Spartans in San Marcos in their first meeting before losing in straight sets Monday.
New Mexico State took the first set 26-24, as well as the third set 25-15. The Bobcats won the second set 25-17. Down two sets to one, Texas State needed extra time to pull out a 26-24 triumph. Momentum carried over to the fifth set for the Bobcats in a 15-11 clincher.
Chisum said the winning moment was one of the best in her 33-year Texas State career.
“One of the best years in my career right now,” Chisum said. “These nine kids did an outstanding job tonight. I’ve never been as proud of a group as I am right now, because of what they have come back from.”
Chisum said she was proud of the dispersed stat line and team-wide contribution.
“Molly Ahrens did an amazing job tonight,” Chisum said. “Ashlee (Hilbun) provided great leadership in the huddle. Caleigh (McCorquodale) and Caylin (Mahoney) put (them) in a hole early,” Chisum said. “It was just an all around team effort. This one was big.”
Junior middle blocker Hilbun finished the match with a career-high 16 kills and a .375 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Alex Simms totaled 12 kills and three aces for the match.
Sophomore setter Caylin Mahoney finished with a team-high 21 assists, while 17 were made by senior setter Caleigh McCorquodale.
Sophomore middle blocker Ahrens said defense was a definite point of emphasis going into the game.
“We’ve been working on blocking in practice,” Ahrens said. “We knew they had four big hitters and that defense was going to have to be our thing this game. I knew that blocking would be the biggest factor that would help our back row so I put all that I could into it.”
Ahrens recorded a career and match high 11 blocks while five were added by Amari Deardorff.
“Going into the game we knew we were underdogs,” Deardorff said. “We had nothing to lose and they had everything to lose and so we were really motivated to make it a good weekend.”
Last Thursday in Denver, Colo., the Bobcats faced the University of Denver Pioneers and the Cats fell in four sets, losing 20-25 in the first and 17-25 in the second. They won the third 27-25 but dropped the fourth 25-20.
Junior right side hitter Deardorff preseason WAC all-team and WAC player of the week honorable mentionee, gave all the credit to the Pioneers’ play.
“They were a good team, all around, but I by no means think that we played our best ball,” Deardorff said.
Despite the loss, Deardorff said the match had value for the team.
“We kind of learned that every game of the year in the WAC we are going to have to try for,” Deardorff said. “I think it was a good wakeup call for the entire team.”
Ashlee Hilbun did a little bit of everything in the losing effort, recording a team-high 12 kills. She had a .417 hitting percentage, nine digs and a team high four blocks.
Monday night, the Bobcats lost the first set 25-17, the second 25-20 and let the lead slip away in the third 25-23. Through the first two sets, Texas State’s largest lead was 2-0 and the Spartans racked up 28 kills to the Bobcats’ 18. Texas State’s largest lead of the night came at the 18-14 mark of the third set, but a 9-3 run helped the Spartans take the lead for good.
Junior right side hitter Amari Deardorff led the Bobcats with six kills and four different players led Texas State with two blocks in the losing effort.
Texas State, now 10-11, returns to Strahan Friday night for the I-35 rivalry against UTSA.