SAN ANTONIO —
The UTSA volleyball team, winners of 12 consecutive matches, will hit the road for its final two regular-season contests of the season this weekend. The Roadrunners will travel to I-35 rival Texas State on Thursday for a 6:30 p.m. tilt before heading to the Metroplex for a 4 p.m. match at UT Arlington two days later.
UTSA (19-9, 13-1 SLC) will attempt to wrap up its second Southland Conference Regular Season Championship in the program's 28-year history this weekend. The Roadrunners, who clinched the league's West Division title last Saturday, currently are tied with Central Arkansas, leaders of the East, but they hold the tiebreaker by virtue of their four-set victory on Oct. 30. UTSA won its only Southland regular season crown in 1999 and it won the Southland Tournament Championship a year later for its only other league title in program annals.
Senior Kendra Rowland was named Southland Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after averaging five kills and 4.43 digs per set in wins against Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin last weekend. The Antioch, Calif., native leads the Roadrunners with 334 winners (3.12 kps) and 13 double-doubles this fall. Redshirt sophomore Kelsey Schwirtlich has handed out 1,003 assists (9.83 aps) and guided the offense to the third-best hitting percentage in the circuit (.218).
UTSA's strong defense has been aided by strong front-row play from middle blockers Briana Mason and Brittney Malloy. The duo has vaulted the Roadrunners to the top of the league in blocks per set (2.29). Mason, a senior, holds the seventh-highest mark in the conference at 1.06 blocks per frame, while Malloy, a sophomore, averages 0.98. Junior Kelsey Jewasko has been strong all season on the back row, ranking second in the league with 5.47 digs per set.
Texas State (17-11, 10-4 SLC) is the last team to defeat the Roadrunners, which came in a four-set decision on Sept. 25. The Bobcats own a commanding 48-11 advantage in the all-time series and have won 24 of the 27 meetings in San Marcos. UTSA's last road victory in the series came more than eight years ago on Sept. 17, 2002.
The Bobcats boast the circuit's top hitting club (.248) and they rank second in opponent hitting percentage (.165). Freshman Amari Deardorff owns the third-best hitting percentage in the league (.337), while junior Amber Calhoun ranks second in blocks per set (1.17).
Saturday’s match at UT Arlington (14-14, 8-6 SLC) will mark the 40th meeting between the two programs. The Mavericks hold a 26-13 lead in the all-time series that dates back to the 1998 campaign, but UTSA has won the last two matchups, including a four-set home win on Sept. 23. The Roadrunners have not fared well at Texas Hall, winning just two of the 18 contests played at the venue. UTSA last won in Arlington on Nov. 15, 2008.
The Mavericks, winners of five matches in a row, are led by senior Raegan Daniel, who ranks sixth in the conference with a .316 hitting percentage. Junior Alicia Shaffer, the league's reigning Defensive Player of the Week, is third in digs per set (5.05) and she recorded 43 digs — the circuit's second-highest mark this year — on Oct. 6 against Stephen F. Austin.