SHSU volleyball finishes third at Denver Invitational

Sam Houston State finished in third place at the University of Denver’s Pioneer Invitational this weekend.

The Bearkats (4-2) started off slow but managed to conclude the tournament with a win against Bradley University.

“We as a team did not play well from start to finish,” head coach Brenda Gray said. “It is very difficult to overcome a slow start playing great competition.”

SHSU defeated Bradley in four sets on the campus of Denver on Saturday with senior outside hitter Deveney Wells-Gibson totaling 17 kills. Freshman outside hitter Brooke White finished with nine kills, and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Genung added six to the scoreboard.

Yet the Kats didn’t begin connecting on the court until after a rough start to the tournament.

The Bearkats began the tourney dropping back-to-back matches against host University of Denver on Friday night and Kansas University on Saturday morning.

“We had better individual performances from some players,” Gray said.

The Jayhawks beat the Bearkats in three sets (25-15, 25-17, 25-16). KU’s senior outside hitter Chelsea Albers led her team cranking out 11 kills and was named Tournament Most Valuable Player. Jayhawks’ freshman middle blocker Kayla Cheadle led the defense with four blocks and totaled eight kills. The Jayhawks put a stop to All-Tournament player Wells-Gibson, allowing her to only get six kills the entire match.

Denver also got the best of the Bearkats, defeating SHSU in three sets as well (25-21, 25-16, 25-16). The Kats pulled away with a 16-13 lead in the first frame, but they could not pull off enough points to win. Wells-Gibson led the Bearkats once again with 10 kills and freshman outside hitter Jordyn Vaughn came through with six kills. Sophomores Breanna Homer and Claire Kilpatrick ran the defense totaling 10 digs each.

Although the tournament resulted in the tough first two losses for the Bearkats in preseason, Gray remains positive and is using this weekend as a stepping stool heading to their next opponent.

“We learned that we have a solid bench,” she said. “We will continue to work hard this week in preparation for the high-caliber opponents again [this] weekend in Houston.”

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