Sam Houston State travel to Conway, Ar. to face Central Arkansas on Saturday.
The Bearkats will hit the road after having three home games in a row to face a Sugar Bear squad that is undefeated in Southland Conference play.
SHSU holds a 7-0 home court record after Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Lamar, moving the Bearkats to 5-1 in SLC. The Sugar Bears will host the Bearkats looking to become 8-0 in SLC.
Both teams are evenly matched and have had rivalry competitions in the past years. In 2012, SHSU and UCA tied for the SLC championship title.
The two-time defending SLC champions, UCA, are led by junior outside hitter Heather Schnars and senior outside hitter Alicia Dittrich. Schnars, who totaled a match high 21 kills against Nicholls on Saturday, also had nine digs and one service ace. Dittrich finished with 10 kills, three digs and one block.
Sugar Bears’ freshman setter Kristine Hjembo had a match high 44 assists, a number which ties for the sixth most in Central Arkansas history for a three-set match.
SHSU’s senior outside hitter Deveney Wells-Gibson leads the Bearkats after totaling 20 kills against Lamar on Tuesday. Junior middle blocker Carling Urben added 14 kills to the scoreboard.
Freshman outside hitter Jordyn Vaughn and sophomore middle blocker Shelby Genung are other key offensive players for the Bearkats. In Tuesday’s match, Vaughn had an impressive start to win the first set for SHSU.
SHSU’s sophomore setter Michelle Griffith had 12 more assists than Hjembo. Griffith totaled 56 out of 62 total kills.
The high total number of assists means the match Saturday will be the battle against the hard hitters; who will outhit who, who will outsmart who and which team can defend the key offensive players’ balls.
Defense will be another key factor in the match.
The Sugar Bears are led by senior defensive specialists Shelbee Berringer and Megan Nash, finishing in 17 digs and four blocks, both of which were match highs Saturday.
The Bearkats’ defense is run by sophomore libero Claire Kilpatrick who totaled 30 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Breanna Homer added 20 to the stats in Tuesday’s match.
Both teams enter the match on a long winning streak. The Bearkats are preparing for Saturday’s match by focusing on their opponent’s tendencies, both weak and strong.
“Our team is starting to click on all cylinders,” Griffith said. “Just taking it one game at a time and this week is UCA, and we know we’re going to have to show up.”
Head coach Brenda Gray reminds her team that anything is possible and being undefeated in conference means nothing because two years ago the Bearkats broke UCA’s streak.
“You have to prepare the same for every opponent,” Gray said. “Understand that they have to play us; we just don’t have to play them.”
The match is scheduled for 2 p.m.