The Javelina Volleyball team, after a historic 25-win season placing them atop the mantle in A&M-Kingsville history, will be heading to San Angelo, Texas, in pursuit of Lone Star Conference Championship gold.
The Lone Star Conference Championship Tournament will include the top eight teams in the LSC, in a single-elimination format consisting of four first-round matches Thursday, followed by two semi-final matches on Friday, culminating to the Championship match on Saturday, Nov. 19.
The winner of the tournament will not only be fortunate enough to hoist the championship trophy above their shoulders, but the LSC tournament victor will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II Volleyball Championship.
The Javelinas will be riding a five-game win streak into the tournament as the No. 3 seed in the conference; including a 3-1 victory over their first opponent in the tournament, No. 6 West Texas A&M, who they have swept in the regular-season series for the first time since 2004.
The top ranked blocking team in the Lone Star Conference, will be looking to capitalize on that run from day one of the tournament.
“Momentum is a big deal in volleyball and if we can use these last few wins to our advantage, we will definitely try to do that,” said Head Coach Tanya Allen on the games heading into Thursday afternoon.
“Of course there are a couple matches that I wish we could play again, but I prefer to just look forward. We have had a great season so far and from here on out, we can only make it better.”
The regular season was chalk full of lessons that Coach Allen and company were able to learn from and adapt to.
The Hoggies have beaten every team along the beaten path on the road to the tournament in Lone Star Conference play, except for two teams that are currently amongst the top four seeded in the conference; No. 1 (and AVCA ranked No. 13) Angelo State RamBelles, and the No. 4 Texas A&M-Commerce Lions.
Middle Blocker Lexi Wick sees this tournament as an opportunity to make up for the teams mishaps throughout the season, most notably in finding a way to redeem the losses that have frustrated the team to its’ core.
“There are a few games that could have changed a lot in how we approach our conference tournament,” Said Wick on the regular season. “Those [matches] were definitely learning experiences and we can’t dwell on them. [We] can only use those to fuel how we go into this tournament and use them to improve our play.”
With the possibility of potentially facing Angelo State or A&M-Commerce in the finale for the title, the Hoggies will sure be in for the fight of their lives come Saturday, if and when they get the chance.
“With [A&M-Commerce], it is extremely frustrating because we should have won that second match against them at home,” said Wick.
“[We] let our momentum escape us when Coach made a few changes to the lineup. But having the girls who don’t normally play get some time in these last couple of games at home, definitely gave us more practice and a comfort with some changes if they happen again.”
“[As for] Angelo State, we know we can compete with them, and seeing as how we may have to play them in their own gym, we can’t let the [home] crowd get to us. Like Coach Allen constantly says, it’s not the ‘big crowd going wild’ plays, it’s all the little things that can really add up and make such a huge difference [on the scoreboard].”
From start to finish, Coach Allen believes a gameplan tailored to their strengths, will be what is crucial to get them from match one, to the final.
“Serve-receive will always be a key factor in matches against tough opponents. We’ll need to keep our sideout percentage high, if we expect to compete with the best. Our entire team has to step up, now is the time for everyone to play their best.”
The Javelinas will hit the court first to get the Lone Star Conference Championship Tournament underway at 12 P.M. on Nov. 17.