Texas State sophomore defensive specialist Jacqueline Lee (7) celebrates with teammates during a game against James Madison University, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats tied the weekend series 1-1.
Texas State’s volleyball team put together another strong season in the 2022 campaign, finishing with a 14-2 record in the Sun Belt Conference and 24-7 overall.
The successful regular season record for Texas State resulted in the top seed in the West Division and set up the Bobcats for a deep run in the conference tournament.
Texas State was on a six-game winning streak going into the 2022 Sun Belt Conference Tournament and managed to pick up two crucial wins against Louisiana and South Alabama to propel the Bobcats to their sixth straight conference championship appearance.
It was a bittersweet end to the 2022 season for Texas State, however, as the Bobcats ultimately came up short in the championship game against top seed in the Sun Belt Conference, James Madison University.
Head coach Sean Huiet still believes the team had a successful year regardless of how things ultimately panned out.
“It’s hard not to just think about the ending, and it wasn’t the ending we were hoping for, but when you sit down you have some time to reflect and some of the things we did as a team,” Huiet. saying. “It was a successful year. I think when you’re winning your division for the sixth year in a row and you’re playing the championship game for the sixth year in a row, it’s hard to be upset with how the season has played out.”
Huiet believes the team should have been invited to the NCAA tournament considering their dominant season.
“It’s hard to say it wasn’t a fun and successful year, but it’s still bitter for us to think about the ending, and it was a bit of a shock for the NCAA Committee not to go into the NCAA tournament, but that’s life.” Huiet said. “That’s what we can’t forget in the end. That’s her life and sometimes life is unfair, we just have to learn from it and move on.”
Junior setter Ryann Torres also believes the season ended on a bittersweet note, but expressed appreciation for the hard work and dedication the entire team put forth.
“We had a lot of success in different areas, and having small successes all season prepared us for tough situations that we got through, and it was a really strong team,” Torres said. “We’ve been together for almost five years in a row.”
Texas State’s 2022 roster featured one of the largest and most experienced rosters in the Sun Belt, which included two All-American athletes: graduate outside hitter Janell Fitzgerald and graduate setter Emily DeWalt.
Last season also saw these athletes make their mark on Bobcat history, with Fitzgerald breaking the all-time record for fatalities and DeWalt breaking the career assist record.
DeWalt and Fitzgerald posted historic careers at Texas State playing together for a long time. As they wrap up their college degrees, they cement their legacy in Bobcat history.
“I think this just puts an exclamation point on all their awards. It’s pretty cool to say that for the first time in school history, we have two All-Americans in the same season,” Huiet said. “It’s a testament to not only their level of play, but to their teammates who helped them be so successful.”
Looking ahead, Texas State will have to overcome the hurdle of trying to stay competitive after losing more than half of the team’s graduating experience. Second-year defensive specialist Jacqueline Lee said the feeling of having to deal with players leaving will be used as motivation. She is ready to take on the responsibility of taking on a bigger role next year.
“We’ve gotten used to being such a winning and successful program, but now we’ve lost half the girls that have won the last three championships for us,” Lee said. “So I think everyone wants to prove the doubters wrong. I think a fire will be lit under us to prove everyone wrong and stay competitive.”
Huiet believes Texas State’s winning volleyball story will put a target on the team’s back heading into next year.
“People think that because we lost so many people and lost a great senior class that we’re not going to be as good, and that’s not the case,” Huiet said. “We have kids who are motivated and know what it takes. They saw how good we were this year and that we still haven’t reached our goal, so they know the work it takes to get there.”