Kats on cloud 9

Anna Ferguson totaled 20 kills and Carli Kolbe added 17 to lead Sam Houston State to a five-set victory over McNeese State Saturday afternoon at Johnson Coliseum.

The Bearkats defeated the Cowgirls 25-20, 24-26, 18-25, 27-25 and 15-10 to post Sam Houston’s ninth victory in 11 five setters this year.

The win kept Sam Houston in first place in the Southland Conference West Division with a 9-1 league mark, the Kats’ best Southland start ever. The Bearkats have now won nine matches in a row, the team’s longest winning streak since 1994.

McNeese was led by Priscilla Massengale with 19 kills and Chanel Tyler with 13. The Cowgirls, who defeated Lamar in five sets in Beaumont on Friday, dropped to 16-7 for the year and 4-5 in Southland action.

“We’re didn’t seem as hungry today and we were right on the brink of losing in that fourth set,” SHSU head coach Brenda Gray said. “But, during a time out before those two match points, I told the team that we were in the same position we were Wednesday night against Stephen F. Austin and we came back and won that. The fire came back in their eyes and they responded. I’m really proud of the way this group just keeps fighting.”

Down two sets to one, Sam Houston had to survive two McNeese match points in the four set. At 24-23 Kolbi pounded a kill on a set by Michelle Miller. At 25-24, it was Kim Black with the kill. Ferguson produced another kill to put Sam Houston up 26-25 and Kaylee Hawlins served an ace to even the match at two sets each.

Sam Houston trailed twice in the fifth set, but at 3-4, the Kats rolled off four straight points to take a 7-4 lead and never were behind again.

Hawkins, the Bearkats’ libero, set a school record with 44 digs. She broke the school mark of 43 set by Emily Orlowski against UT-Arlington in 2004.

“Kaylee did a great job tonight for us defensively,” Gray said. “And our freshman setter really kept her head up even though she was getting a lot of balls blocked right back in her face. The team found a way to get it done again today and I couldn’t be prouder of a group.”

Kim Black and Becky Swann each totaled seven kills. Sam Houston produced 15 team blocks.

The Bearkats return to action Thursday at 7 p.m. at Johnson Coliseum when they play host to UTSA.

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