Volleyball maintains Southland Conference dominance

The Bearkats remain on top of the Southland Conference standings, extending their league record to 5-0 after defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Houston Baptist this weekend.

Even though Sam Houston State had a winning weekend, head coach Brenda Gray said she would like to strengthen the energy from her team in the future.

“Tonight was different,” Gray said Saturday. “I feel like we weren’t as up for this match [against Houston Baptist] as others.”

However, energy didn’t appear to be an issue as the Bearkats took the match in three straight sets.

Deveney Wells-Gibson led SHSU’s offense with 20 kills on 47 attempts, giving her a .404 hitting percentage for the night. Haley Neisler and Carling Urben each added seven kills for the Bearkats to maintain offensive power.

Defensively, SHSU reasserted their dominant force on the front line.

Neisler assisted on 13 blocks throughout three sets with Breanna Homer anchoring the defense in the back with 44 digs during the match.

Gray said there are positives to take away from the HBU match but that there’s still work to do.

“I feel like we need to work on defending better in a few places in the back,” Gray said. “We’ll go back to work Monday and continue to work hard.”

SHSU was down 0-3 in the beginning of the second set, which was a checkpoint for them.

“Usually, when we get down by three, someone says ‘Hey, that’s three,'” Wells-Gibson said. “It makes us play harder because if we let it get past three, it’s harder to recover.”

The Bearkats turned the tables on the Huskies by stringing together two 4-point runs and a 6-point run to lead 19-12.

“We must always bring our own energy and take ourselves to another level,” setter Tayler Gray said.

SHSU knocked the Islanders off in three straight sets Thursday evening.

Wells-Gibson and Neisler produced most of the offensive firepower, combining for 23 kills. Shelby Genung chipped in seven kills for the night.

The Islanders struggled to defend the Bearkats’ offensive power as they only combined for four team blocks – a shadow of SHSU’s 12.

SHSU was defensively sound in the match, holding TAMU-CC to a .109 team hitting percentage.

Tayler Gray and Homer combined for 42 digs to hold the defense down.

SHSU will hit the road for the next two weeks to face-off against Lamar University, Incarnate Word and Abilene Christian.

The Bearkats will return to Johnson Coliseum Oct. 17 to host New Orleans College.

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