The Bearkat volleyball team extended their win streak to 11 games by edging Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 25-11 23-25 19-25 25-13 15-12, in a five-set thriller.
Sam Houston State improved their record to 19-10 overall and 11-1 in the Southland Conference by defeating the Islanders in a nail-biting home court finale.
Led by Anna Ferguson’s 24 kills, the Bearkats rallied from a 1-2 deficit to dominate the final two sets en route to their 15 home victory of the year. Carli Kolbe added 13 kills in the victory along with six from Jamie Kaleh, who was huge coming off the bench in the victory.
“It was a nail biter but we pulled it out,” Ferguson said. “We got a little sluggish in the second and third game, but we came together and picked each other up and it worked out.
“I’m so confident in our team going towards the playoffs. It’s so close we can taste it now.”
The Bearkats strengthened their hold on the conference lead with Saturday’s win, giving them a comfortable two game lead on second-place Texas State in the Southland Conference West Division.
Sam Houston once again found itself on the winning end of yet another five-set match, giving them their tenth of the year. The Bearkats have won their last four consecutive home games going into five sets and are 10-2 in five-set matches for the year.
“It’s almost an inside joke now, ‘Oh we’ll just go five,'” said Head Coach Brenda Gray. “We just know how to win in five. These girls work hard all the time and never stop. They practice hard and play hard and they’re very good under pressure.”
The match started out all Sam Houston and had no looks of a five-set thriller at first. The Bearkats dominated the first set with great attacks and good defense. They took a quick 3-0 lead and never looked back. Sam Houston finished the first set on a 12-2 run and rolled the Islanders 25-11 to take the first set.
Coming into the second set, the Bearkats looked out of sorts and Texas A&M Corpus Christi took advantage. Both teams traded scores throughout the second set that saw 10 tied scores and four lead changes.
Sam Houston broke free of the back-and-forth scoring and took a 19-16 lead after scoring four in a row, but the momentum quickly shifted in favor of the Islanders following five straight scores. The Bearkats trailed 21-19 and looked up from there. The Islanders went on to win the set 25-23, tying the match at 1-1 overall going into the half.
The Islanders’ good play rolled over into the second half, where they continued to build momentum on the struggling Bearkats. Sam Houston was tied with the Islanders in the beginning of the match at 1-1 only to trail throughout the rest of the match.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi led nearly the entire match and dominated on their way to winning the set 25-19, giving them a 2-1 lead for the match. However, the Bearkats ended the set on an 8-4 run, shifting momentum that would ultimately rollover into the fourth set.
The Bearkats got out to a quick 13-3 lead in a fourth set in which they never trailed. Sam Houston maintained this lead all the way to the finish and dominated the set 25-13. With the match tied at 2-2, a deciding fifth set began with momentum on Sam Houston’s side.
The fifth set was a close one with seven tied scores throughout the match, but the Bearkats never trailed. Both teams traded scores until the score was tied at 10-10. Sam Houston distanced themselves from the tie and took the lead, 11-10, which they held onto to win 15-12, winning the match 3-2.
“I have no doubts in our team,” Kolbe said. “I think after a while you forget how to lose and winning is all you know. Right now we’re refusing to lose.”
Sam Houston State finished 8-0 at home in the conference and 15-2 overall at Johnson Coliseum. The Bearkats will finish out the year with four consecutive road games, where they are 4-8 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
The Bearkats look to increase their win streak to twelve games this Thursday when they take on conference foe University of Texas-Arlington on the road. They look to improve their record to 20-10 overall and 12-1 in the conference.