SHSU heads to La. for SLC matches

After a disappointing five-set loss to Lamar, Sam Houston State volleyball is looking to redeem itself as they travel to Thibodaux, La. to play Nicholls State on Thursday.

The Colonels will host the Bearkats as they try to get another big win in Southland Conference play. Nicholls State is 1-1 after losing their SLC home opener to Stephen F. Austin and beating Northwestern State last weekend. Overall though, they have a record of 5-10.

Sam Houston State will match up offensively to Nicholls with senior outside hitter Deveney Wells-Gibson leading the Bearkats in kills almost every match. She had 23 kills in the loss against Lamar last weekend. Backing Wells-Gibson, SHSU has power hitter Carling Urben who has been making a name for herself in recent matches. The junior totaled 12 kills while sophomore middle blocker Shelby Genung and freshman outside hitter Brooke White posted nine kills respectively.

Sophomore rightside hitter and lefty Kali Schwartz led the Cardinals offensively with 15 kills against Northwestern. Freshman outside hitter Stephanie Tobison and sophomore outside hitter Kaci Eaton shared 12 kills each.

The setters from both teams are unevenly matched. Sophomore setter Ainsley Marroccoli had 32 assists against Northwestern. Marroccoli had a season-high in 2013 with 29 assists against Southeastern Louisiana. She also played a great game against the Bearkats last season with 23 assists, 10 digs, 5 blocks and one kill. Marroccoli finished the 2013 season with just 263 total assists.

On the other side of the net, sophomore setter Michelle Griffith assisted on 53 of the Bearkats’ 67 kills against Lamar. Getting her start last spring, she is already ranked fourth in the league in assists with 370.

Defensively, the Colonels are led by senior libero Kalynn Egea who had a team-high with 32 digs against Northwestern. Sophomore libero Claire Kilpatrick led the SHSU defense with 27 digs against Lamar.

Approaching Thursday’s match, volunteer assistant coach Tayler Gray said Nicholls is a better team this year than in past years.

“They have an outside and a lefty rightside who they use a bunch,” Gray said. “We must focus on ourselves and contain those two and we will play great.”

The Bearkats defeated the Colonels in both matches in the 2013 season.

SHSU will also take on McNeese State in Lake Charles on Saturday. The Cowgirls are 9-8 overall and 0-2 in SLC play. Offensively, the Cowgirls are led by senior outside hitter Rachel Cagnina who totaled 13 kills in the 3-0 loss to SFA last weekend.

The Bearkats defeated the Cowgirls 3-0 in both matches last season.

The first serve will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Memorial Gym.

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