AJ Watlington blasted on the scene as she knocked down a career-high 18 kills leading No. 1Texas State to a 3-1 (22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-21) win over No. 8 Northwestern State in the opening round of the Southland Conference Tournament. Texas State improves to 22-13, 14-2 in the SLC. The Bobcats will play the winner of No.4 Stephen F. Austin and No. 5 Sam Houston State tomorrow Nov. 22 at 4pm CT.Watlington scored the first point of the match with a kill that ended up in the stands. After seeing themselves down the majority of the set, the Bobcats began to get settled and tie the set up at 13-All, when Lawrencia Brown pounded one down to the center court.
A block by Jessica Weynand and Emily Jones Wilkes tied the match at 21-All. Northwestern State took the lead again scoring two-straight points forcing the Bobcats to call a timeout. A back row error by Texas State moved the score to 24-21 in favor of the Demons. With a Northwestern State kill on the next play the Demons took set one, 25-22. The Bobcats had a hitting percentage of .341 with Jones Wilkes leading the way with five kills and a .714 hitting percentage.
Texas State started to get in a rhythm midway through the second set. Watlington was a force at the net adding kills to her stats, while Jones Wilkes was guarding the net impressively. With the score at 9-8, Texas State pushed it to 14-8, before Northwestern State called for a timeout.
Coming out of timeout the Demons outscored Texas State, 6-2. With the score reading 16-14 in favor of the Bobcats, Texas State called a timeout to regroup. The timeout helped as Texas State scored two points off the back. With an attack error by the Demons, followed by a kill by Weynand, the Bobcats took the second set, 25-20, tying it up at one a piece. Weynand had seven kills in the set to lead all Bobcats.
Entering the third set, the Bobcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead to start the set. Whitney Rhoden came into the match knocking down a kill to tie the set at 6-All. Texas State took its biggest lead of the set at four, forcing the Demons to take a timeout.
Weynand recorded the first ace of the match to give Texas State a 16-10 lead. After having a seven-point lead, the Bobcats saw themselves up by a trio at 21-18. Northwestern State scored three straight points coming out of a timeout to take its first lead of the set at 22-21. The Demons fought back hard, but the Bobcats came away with the set with a 25-23 advantage.
Texas State left no room for error in the fourth set as they came away with the win, 25-21 and won the match 3-1. The Bobcats had three players score in double digits. Watlington finished the match with 18 kills and nine digs. Amy Weigle recorded 12 kills.
Tallying double-doubles for the Bobcats were Weynand and Brittany Collins. Weynand had her 11th of the season finishing with 14 kills and 19 digs. Collins added 33 assists and 11 digs for her seventh of the season.
by Denise Thompson
Texas State Athletics