Last season the Roadrunners women’s team made a 12th consecutive trip to the Southland Conference tournament after winning the West division. Their quest for a third championship in four years fell short in the semifinals as they fell to McNeese State.
Fast forward eight months. The Roadrunners prepare to take the court with a whole lot of new faces and one more season in the Southland before the much anticipated move to the Western Athletic Conference.
“We are very excited; we have a whole new look,” Head Coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair said. “We lost a lot of kids to graduation.”
Among the performers lost from last season’s semifinalist squad were senior guard Amber Gregg, who left UTSA having set school records for three point field goals made and attempted, and senior guard Alysse Davis, who left with a school record 98 blocks.
Despite the loss, Rippetoe-Blair found reason for excitement with the return of junior guard Whitney York, the last remaining player from the championship squad.
“We have six new players and two coming back from injury so it’s a different looking team.”
The two players who will return from injury are York and sophomore guard/forward Judi Jones.
“Whitney has been through a lot with two ACLs, but she has been the hardest working girl I’ve coached,” Rippetoe Blair said. “She didnt lose her quickness. Judi Jones has gotten stronger; definitely both will be starters this season.”
The tough non-conference schedule has been a hallmark of Rippetoe-Blair in her tenure at UTSA. This year is no different as the Roadrunners open the season at home with the Missouri Tigers Friday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m.
“We start off with a Big XII opponent and then we go on the road to a ranked TCU. We just have a really tough non-conference schedule. Hopefully that will help us when we get to conference.”
The Roadrunners’ tough non-conference slate in past years has been a springboard to conference success.
“I believe in getting out there and playing those ranked opponents,” Rippetoe-Blair said.
The Roadrunners will navigate their final season in the Southland with several new faces.
“We have two junior college transfers in Jalisa Montgomery from Arkansas and Simone Young,” Rippetoe-Blair said. “Jalisa is a strong kid, great rebounder. She can really score on the block. Simone can play the point guard or the two guard, she can shoot the three well.”
In addition to the junior college transfers, the Roadrunners will also welcome a strong freshman class
“Then we have our four freshmen. Kamra King out of Norman, Oklahoma, a really good shooter, can play the one or the two,” Rippetoe Blair said. “Ashley Spaletta can shoot the ball well; Mannasha Bell can play the three or the four and is a great rebounder. Then we have Jenny Menz, a young lady from Germany, who can shoot the ball well.”
In addition to getting used to how the Roadrunners operate on the court, the new players have had to adjust to life in another state.
“The weather has been the hardest thing to adjust to,” Jalisa Montgomery said as her fellow teammates laughed. “Other than that I like everything about UTSA.”
The Roadrunners will open the season with a home game against Missouri on Friday at 7 p.m.