Bobcats begin conference play with four-set win against Georgia State

Senior Sports Reporter

The Sun Belt Conference season began with a bang for the Texas State volleyball team.

Texas State took control of the match early and took care of business against the Georgia State Panthers, 3-1 (25-20, 25-18, 20-25, 25-17).

Texas State came out focused as they won the first two sets, but set two was not easy.

Georgia State began to comeback in set number two after a 6-1 run to bring the score to 15-14.

It was time to buckle down for Texas State, and they finished off the set on a 10-4 run to give them two sets to the Panther’s zero.

Texas State couldn’t fight off Georgia State in set three to sweep the match, but set four was all Bobcats.

The team converted 17 kills and recorded a .263 hit percentage in the winning set. The set was never tied and the Bobcats led the entire way.

The match is a good start for Texas State in the conference schedule. Some players felt a different atmosphere tonight because of the beginning of a new season.

“There was a more intensity tonight, and it must have been because of the conference play,” said Erin Hoppe, sophomore setter. “We played well with the intensity, and that can only be good news for our team.”

Hoppe recorded 43 assists in the match, which is three shy of her career-high. Hoppe said “the passes were spot on, and the middles did their jobs well tonight.”

Hoppe is playing like the starting setter on the team, and Coach Karen Chisum made a decision between making Hoppe or Emily Shelton, junior setter, the starting setter.

“I’m so proud of Erin and the spot is hers right now,” Chisum said. “Emily is still not far behind her and pushing Erin everyday to get better.”

One of the middles the setter is feeding is Morgan Lewis, junior middle blocker. Lewis finished the match with 13 kills and six blocks.

Lewis played a major role in the first two sets, and coach Chisum said she was “unstoppable” during that time.

The junior has been picking up her game lately, which is helping the team out while Jaliyah Bolden, sophomore middle blocker, recovers from her injury.

Lewis’ 13 kills allowed her to pass Shelby Vas Matt, junior outside hitter, bringing her to second on the team with 81 kills. Jordan Kohl, sophomore outside hitter, leads the team with 114 kills.

“We’ve been focusing on establishing our middle blockers,” Lewis said. “Teams are starting to stack on our outside hitters, like Jordan Kohl, so the middles and me have been stepping up.”

Lewis and the middle blockers’ job is to create blocks against opposing hitters, and Lewis extended her lead on the team with six more blocks in tonight’s match.

“I enjoy getting a block over a kill,” Lewis said. “Getting a kill is great, but seeing the other team get down in the dumps after what I did is more satisfying to me.”

Lewis and the rest of the team will continue their voyage through the Sun Belt on Sunday as they host Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Ragin’ Cajuns are currently last in the Sun Belt, and Texas State defeated Lafayette in both meetings last season.

“Starting off like this was huge for us,” Coach Chisum said. “We came out in the first two sets and played exactly how we hoped. If we continue to pass well and run the dig-box then we will continue to have success.”

Follow Matt Gurevitz on Twitter at @Matt_Gurevitz.