Volleyball hopes momentum carries over

Rebounding from a third place finish in the SHSU volleyball tournament, the LadyKat volleyball team improved its record to 6-2 for the season with a sweeping victory last weekend at the Hartford Classic Volleyball Invitational in Hartford, Conn., and are looking toward tomorrow’s match against nationally ranked Texas A&M. “We opened with Auburn, who I thought would be our toughest opponent,” said Coach Brenda Gray. “I don’t think we allowed them to get started. We served very well in that gym all three matches and we took people out of the game.” The Kats defeated Auburn in three games, which set the tone for the team and the weekend.”Our goal, after we beat Auburn that night, was to beat everyone else in three, and to just relax and play a little bit better ball,” Gray said.An early match on Saturday against Sacred Heart brought the ladies to a season high hitting average, of .421. In 95 attempts, 47 kills were made, with only seven errors. The Kats won in three games, 30-16, 3-4 and 30-15. In the second game, the Kats held Sacred Heart to only four points, which came on SHSU service errors.The final match against Marist was determined in less than one hour, with the Bearkats again limiting an opponent to a single-digit score. In game one, Marist scored only eight points. Carrie Sartain led the team with 43 kills in three matches and was named to the all-tournament team.The Hartford tournament title was the first time since 1997 the Bearkats have won an intercollegiate tournament. The teams also posts the best record start since the 1993 Southland Conference championship team began the year at 7-1.This weekend, SHSU volleyball will travel to College Station to face Texas A&M, Brigham Young, and Louisiana-Lafayette.Coming off their big win in Hartford, the girls are looking for some good competition and at least one win over the nationally ranked Aggies.”We’re excited to go and play some competition,” Dana Jefferson said. “If we can take four games with A&M, beat them, we’ll be excited about that. We’re coming off a big win, and we’re looking to keep it going.”Coach Gray added to Jefferson’s words. “We’re going over there to play one match at a time . . .not to be intimidated by anybody we play,” she said. “But I told them, ‘we’re going over to face A&M, who is high in the country, so what?’ Their girls play their matches just like we do; they put on their shoes; and hey, everybody has to serve, and we are a very good serving team. In my opinion, I think they’re going to have to play with us, too. Pretend there’s no Aggie on their back, and go get ’em.”One of Gray’s goals is to defeat A&M in at least one game.”I’m going over there with the notion of, somehow or another, we’ve got to take a game off of A&M . . .that’s kind of my big goal . . .play one ball at a time,” she said. “I think we can beat A&M if everything goes our way. That’s hard to do in somebody else’s house.”As for Brigham Young and Louisiana-Lafayette, Gray has a plan for them as well.”The other two teams, BYU and USL, in all do respect, I think we can beat those two,” she said.Carrie Sartain also wants a big win in College Station.” I think if we just go out there and play against the big schools like we play everybody else, we’ll be fine,” she said. “We’re going to feed off our win. It’s a bigger school, more competition. We’re going to try as hard as we can and play them just like we would any other day.”The Texas A&M Aggie Invitational begins tomorrow, with the LadyKats facing off with the Aggies at 7 p.m. in College Station. On Saturday, the Kats will play BYU at 11 a.m. and Louisiana-Lafayette at 5 p.m.

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