San Antonio, Texas – The Sam Houston State Bearkats volleyball team went on an unprecedented run this year, winning 11 straight games and putting up their best record since 1994.
The Kats talent level was extremely high at the beginning of the year. Freshmen Kelli Stewart, Jamie Haas, and Kaylee Hawkins were starting, with Camille Alfaro, another freshman, coming off the bench to add another weapon for the Bearkats.
However, none of that was able to save the Bearkats from a showdown in the conference tournament. Nicholls, a team that Sam Houston had faced earlier this year and beat in less than an hour, stunned the Bearkats Friday night in the first round of the tournament.
“I’m just sick,” said a tearful Head Coach Brenda Gray. “Things started to go in game three, we were up by six and we let them hang around.”
From the opening serve, the Bearkats looked dominant; as things kept going right for the Kats. Anna Fergusson looked dominant, racking up seven kills in the first game and setting a tempo for the team.
Both teams swapped points in the first game, neither team really being able to establish a setting. But after the game was tied at 14 all, the Bearkats pulled away, stepping on the gas the Bearkats got every break and every bounce on their way to winning the game 25-21.
In the second match, the Bearkats started strong again. Both teams continued to look for the upper hand with neither really pulling away. With almost everything going the Bearkats way, Ferguson was able to add another seven kills and Kolbe added another three. But after a stall at 22 all, the Colonels were able to pull away and put the Bearkats down 25-23.
“Everything was going really good those first two games,” Ferguson said. “But it just went downhill from there. We couldn’t get any breaks.”
Both teams went into their breaks struggling to find a way to win.
But game three is where the tides turned. The Bearkats took a six point lead in the third game. However, when Ferguson went to the sidelines, Nicholls came to life and took the lead to win the set 26-24.
From there nothing went back the Bearkats way.
Game four put the Bearkats backs against the wall. With Nicholls getting every bounce, the Kats could do nothing and lost the game 25-22.
“We have a lot to be proud of,” said Carli Kolbe, who finished the night with 17 kills. “They had a good night, and we shouldn’t have given up the lead.”