Texas State wins Sun Belt tourney as NCAA fall Division I volleyball season ends

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NCAA volleyball 11/23/2020-Texas State volleyball-Sun Belt Conference
Texas State celebrates its victory over Coastal Carolina/Sun Belt photo by Michelle Carroll-Stancil

We got this update from the SEC at 9 a.m. Central after this story was posted. Now the NCAA fall season is finished:

Volleyball matches between Ole Miss and LSU, scheduled to be played November 24 and 25, have been postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test and subsequent quarantine of student-athletes among the LSU program.

The action is consistent with COVID-19 management requirements developed by the SEC’s Medical Guidance Task Force.

The opportunity to reschedule the matches will be evaluated.

After months of uncertaintity, postponements, big victories and tough defeats, the fall NCAA COVID-punctuated Division I volleyball season comes to an end this week when Ole Miss — which was supposed to make the trip nearly three weeks prior — plays Tuesday and Wednesday at LSU.

Sunday, the Sun Belt provided all the drama any college volleyball fan could ask for. Ultimately, Texas State won the SBC tournament title and the automatic NCAA Tournament that goes with it in five sets, but not before Coastal Carolina star Anett Nemeth was lost late in the second set to a knee injury. 

The Big 12 finished its fall season Saturday when Baylor swept Kansas State and Iowa State beat TCU in five. And the SEC had two outcomes Saturday as Missouri beat Ole Miss and Florida beat Georgia, both in four sets.

SUN BELT — The final score in Texas State’s victory was 20-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-19, 15-6 as the Bobcats celebrated their third conference title in a row. But you can’t understate how the loss of Nemeth impacted the match. 

She got her team-high 12th kill to pull Coastal to 20-16 in the second set, attacking from the back row but landing in such a way in which she appeared to injure her left knee. After leaving the court, Nemeth, the 2019 SBC player of the year, sat on the bench with a brace on her left knee for the remainder of the match.

Even with her out of the lineup, Coastal won the third set, but never could keep pace in the final two sets, obviously lacking Nemeth’s firepower while falling behind 15-9 in the fourth and going down 6-0 in the fifth.

Texas State finished the fall season 24-2, 15-1 in the SBC. The Bobcats lost a non-conference match to UTEP on September 12 and then to Texas-Arlington to end SBC regular-season play. Coastal Carolina went 16-0 in the SBC regular season and finished 18-1.

Tyeranee Scott had a career-high 18 kills to lead Texas State as she hit .333 and had eight blocks, two solo. Janell Fitzgerald had 13 kills — nine in the last two sets — two digs, and six blocks, one solo, and two of them came to open the fifth set. Caitlin Buettner had 12 kills with one error in 27 attacks and hit .407 to go with three blocks and two digs, and Lauren Teske had 10 kills, two assists, three aces, two blocks, and nine digs. Setter Emily DeWalt had 49 assists and a team-high 18 digs.

Texas State, which became the first SBC team to win three in a row since Little Rock did it from 1997-99, actually trailed in every statistic for the match except for two, points scored and service aces. The Bobcats had nine, while Coastal had none.

“We are feeling really good right now,” Texas State coach Sean Huiet said. “This season I preached all year that it is going to take everyone to win this thing. We had to overcome a lot of adversity in 2020 like everyone else, but what I think makes this team so unique is that you never knew whose night it was going to be. Anyone’s number can be called at any time and they are always ready to step up. 

“Coastal Carolina is a great team and we knew it was going to be a five-set battle. I thought we played OK, but we were a little too focused and tensed early on. I had to tell them to throw out the game plan and just play volleyball and once they relaxed, I saw the momentum shift.”

Nemeth got her 12 kills in 25 swings with four errors and hit .320 to go with an assist, two blocks, and two digs. Blaire Fleming had 12 kills, three digs, and two blocks, one solo. Ani Bozdeva had 10 kills, two blocks, and seven digs. Ilse Sinnige also had 10 kills, hit .421, and had an assist, and three blocks, two solo. And Madison Lowery also had 10 kills in 16 errorless swings to go with four blocks, one solo. Brigitta Petrenko had 49 assists and 13 digs.

BIG 12 — Baylor (13-3) overpowered visiting Kansas State (10-6) 25-18, 25-23, 25-13 as the Bears hit .352. Yossiana Pressley led with 16 kills as she hit .353 and had an assist and nine digs. Lauren Harrison had 10 kills with one error in 19 attacks to hit .474 and added an ace, two blocks, and a dig. 

“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a weird year with COVID-19 and everything, but I feel like we managed to stay close as a team, and build connections on and off the court,” Harrison said “It’s been a great year.”

K-State, which hit .133, got 10 kills from Brynn Carlson. Six teammates combined for 19 kills. 

Eleanor Holthaus had 22 kills and hit .486 as Iowa State (5-9) capped a three-match win streak to end the fall with a 25-17, 16-25, 23-25, 28-26, 15-5 victory at TCU (1-9).

Holthaus added an assist, three blocks, and nine digs. Brooke Andersen had 14 kills, three assists, a block, and 11 digs. Piper Mauck had two kills, 47 assists, an ace, six blocks, and 11 digs.

Afedo Manyang and Taylor Raiola had 14 kills apiece to lead TCU, while Mykayla Myers had 13 while hitting .409, and Katie Clark had 12 kills. Clark hit .320 and had nine blocks, one solo.

SEC — Georgia on Friday dealt Florida a four-set defeat. Saturday, the Gators (6-2) bounced back with a 26-24, 25-19, 13-25, 25-23 victory. 

Former Georgia player T’ara Ceasar led Florida with 18 kills, two aces, and 12 digs. Holly Carlton had 15 kills, seven blocks, and two digs. Thayer Hall had 14 kills, an ace, and five digs. Lauren Dooley and Nnedi Okammor both had four kills with no errors in nine swings and Dooley had six blocks. Marlie Monserez had a kill, 47 assists, an ace, a block, and 17 digs. 

Amber Stivrins, who averaged 4.48 kills per set in her team’s eight matches, had 23 kills for Georgia (4-4). Stivrins hit .304 and had an assist, three blocks, and 10 digs. Kacie Evans had 12 kills, an assist, two aces, a block, and 17 digs. Mallory Hernandez had eight kills and three blocks, and Sage Naves had seven kills and four blocks. 

“I was proud of our team’s fight today,” Georgia coach Tom Black said. “It came down to a handful of plays we just weren’t able to execute and Florida did. 

“I thought it was a hard-fought match and we’ll grow tremendously from this weekend.”

Missouri (6-2) hit .369 as it beat Ole Miss (0-6) 25-19, 25-19, 17-25, 25-18. Kylie Deberg, who averaged 4.59 kills per set — second only to LSU’s Taylor Bannister at 4.70 — led the Tigers with 16 kills, two aces, four digs, and three blocks, one solo. Anna Dixon had 11 kills, hit .364, and had two blocks, and a dig.

GG Carvacho had 20 kills to lead Ole Miss, hitting .324. Anna Bair had 15 kills and hit .367.

The Ole Miss-LSU match Tuesday is at 1 p.m. Central and can be seen on SECN+, while Wednesday’s 11 a.m. Central first serve will be shown on ESPNU. 

1 COMMENT

  1. For me it was a pretty disappointing season. There didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm anywhere in the country for college volleyball.

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