Sam Houston State came up big in the clutch once again as the Bearkats defeated the University of Houston Cougars in a five-set match, 26-24, 17-25, 25-20, 16-25, 16-14.
Led by Carli Kolbe’s 19 kills, the Bearkats defeated the Cougars in five sets, improving their record to 5-4 this season. Anna Ferguson also played a key role in the victory with 18 kills, along with Kelli Stewart, who added 14 kills.
The Bearkats’ five-set victory over Houston makes them 3-0 in five-set matches this season.
“We set a goal for our team to never lose a fifth set in our house,” said Ferguson. “If we go to five sets in a match here at home, we’re going to win it.”
The Bearkats victory came at high cost. Starting setter Kym Loving went down with a knee injury in the first set and didn’t return. True freshman Michelle Miller filled in nicely for Loving and assisted in 54 kills for the Bearkats throughout the match.
“Losing my starting setter in the second play of the game was tough,” said Coach Brenda Gray. “You never want to play without your whole team. It changed the whole dimension of the game, but Michelle Miller was great tonight. She stepped in and did a wonderful job.”
The game went back and forth throughout the entire match, and the Bearkats and Cougars alternated victories to the end.
Sam Houston State got out to an early 3-2 lead before the Cougars scored four in a row, giving them a 6-3 lead. The Bearkats did not lead in the match again until the end of the set. With a 25-24 lead, Anna Ferguson recorded a kill to give the Bearkats the 26-24 victory in the first set.
The Bearkats again took a quick lead in the second set, 2-1, before the Cougars took over and controlled the game. The Bearkats did not lead again in the set as Houston cruised to victory, 25-17, to knot the match up at once a piece at the half.
The lead alternated back and forth in the third set until the Bearkats took the lead at 16-15, a lead that they did not lose for the rest of the set. The Bearkats closed out the Cougars on a 10-5 run en route to winning the third set, 25-20.
The fourth set was much like the third set but with the opposite ending. After a back-and-forth set, the Cougars got out to 15-12 lead and proceeded to outscore the Bearkats 10-4 on their way to win the set, 25-16.
The fifth and final set was another intense, back-and-forth battle. The Bearkats built a 9-6 lead to begin the decisive set until Houston came charging back. The Cougars outscored the Bearkats 8-5 to tie the game at 14-14.
With the score knotted up at 14-14, Ferguson and Michelle Miller blocked Houston’s Jasmine Terry’s serve to give the Bearkats a 15-14 lead. On the following play, Kolbe’s 19th kill won the set and match for the Bearkats, 16-14.
“Teamwork won this game for us tonight,” said Carli Kolbe. “It was tough when Kym went down, but Michelle came in and played very well. It was a hard fight, but we came together as a team and took this one.”