Nov. 19, 2010
HUNTSVILLE - Lamar University got several big performances on Friday afternoon at Johnson Coliseum, beginning with sophomore Jayme Bazile, as the sixth-seeded Lady Cardinals knocked off third-seeded Texas State by a 3-2 score in the first round of the Southland Conference Volleyball Tournament.
Lamar, which beat Texas State by the same 3-2 score in their only meeting earlier this season, will now faced No. 2 UTSA on Saturday evening at 5. UTSA was a 3-2 winner over McNeese State earlier in the day.
"The atmosphere was really electric and it's great to get a win in that environment," said sixth-year Lamar head coach Justin Gibert. "If we can play with the same determination and intensity tomorrow, then I think we have a good chance. Our goal is to be playing in the final match."
Lamar knocked Texas State off in the finals of the 2008 tournament to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. In 2007, it was Texas State that knocked Lamar out in the semifinals.
"This is a big win because they're (Texas State) probably the best tournament team in the Southland year in and year out," said Gibert. "The whole team really worked together today to pick up this victory over a very tough opponent."
Each set proved to be more exciting than the next, with neither team able to grab control of the match. The defending tournament champion Bobcats won the first set 26-24 before Lamar evened the match with a 27-25 victory in the second set.
Lamar then grabbed a 2-1 lead by virtue of a 25-22 victory in the third set. After leading 23-20, the Bobcats scored a pair of points to make it 23-22 and force a Lamar timeout. Freshman Megan McStravick and Bazile hammered home a pair of kills out of the timeout to close out the set for Lamar.
Gibert made a key adjustment after the second set that helped the Lamar offense and defense. Gibert inserted sophomore Kaleigh Wright into the libero role and her passing and defense helped key the victory.
"Kaleigh came in and passed nails and that was key to our offense running smoothly," noted Gibert. "She did a great, great job and was huge for us today."
Texas State won the fourth set 25-21 to set up the thrilling fifth set.
Lamar jumped out to a 2-0 lead and was ahead 11-8 in the fifth set before the championship experience of the Bobcats began to come through. A Mo Middleton service ace capped a four-point run by the Bobcats that pushed Texas State ahead by a 12-11 score.
Lamar evened the set at 12 and then surged ahead on a Texas State attack error and a Bazile kill to set up set point. The Bobcats tied the set yet again at 14 before a service error gave Lamar the ball and a 15-14 lead. Bazile put down her 16th kill of the match to close the victory.
"The middles played really well today and that is where we get a lot of our offense," said Gibert. "The whole team brought a level of energy and determination, and we got a lot of clutch kills early from Christina (Hobbs) in the middle."
Lamar finished the match with 67 kills on a solid .222 attack percentage and picked up 16 total blocks in the victory.
In addition to 16 kills, Bazile hit .441 and finished with seven total blocks. Hobbs' line was equally impressive, totaling 15 kills, a .407 attack percentage and six blocks. Sophomore Angel Colyar led Lamar with 19 digs.
Alex Morford continues to mature at the setter position and Friday showed just that. Morford finished the match with 56 assists and five kills in leading Lamar into the semifinals.
The Bobcats got a match-high 21 kills from A.J. Watlington, but the first-team all-conference player hit just .173 for the match.