Sam Houston State fell just short of snapping Central Arkansas’s undefeated Southland Conference record Saturday.
SHSU won the first set 25-23 after senior outside hitter Deveney Wells-Gibson and freshman outside hitter Jordyn Vaughn shared back-to-back kills.
The Bearkats gave up a 22-20 lead after UCA bounced back and won the second set 24-26.
SHSU rebounded and won the third set 25-21, but this was its last set win. UCA responded and won the fourth (18-25) and fifth sets (11-15) to take the match 3-2.
The much anticipated SLC match of the week resulted in UCA staying on top 9-0 and SHSU dropping down to 5-2 in SLC.
Losing in five and being unable to finish strong has become an unfortunate reoccurring trend for the Bearkats, as they lost to Lamar Sept. 27 after having a 2-0 set lead. They were unable to finish the match in the third and when given another opportunity to finish in the fifth and final set, the Cardinals took advantage by winning the last three points and knocking off the Bearkats.
In the match against UCA, the Bearkats mirrored the aforementioned scenario. SHSU had chance after chance to win the ball game but were unable to finish.
Wells-Gibson said that the Bearkats were the aggressors the entire match, except in set five.
“We’re all frustrated because we already know we struggle on finishing,” she said. “We had the opportunity to win and still couldn’t finish.”
Sophomore setter Michelle Griffith agreed with Wells-Gibson.
“We had three chances to win in the second and had some great leads in the sets we lost,” she said. “But there can’t be any could haves, would haves, or should haves. Hopefully we get the chance to put them away in the conference tournament.”
SHSU’s Wells-Gibson turned in a match-high of 24 kills. Griffith was the second leading scorer for the Bearkats totaling eight kills. She finished the match with 46 assists.
Vaughn and junior middle blocker Carling Urben added seven kills apiece to the scoreboard. Sophomore libero Claire Kilpatrick led the Bearkat defense with 22 digs.
UCA had three players with double-digit kills. Sophomore outside hitter Evie Singleton led the team with 22 kills, junior outside hitter Heather Schnars added 19 and freshman right side Megan Nash added ten.
Freshman setter Kristine Hjembo totaled 47 assists, only one more than Griffith had.
The Sugar Bears’ defense was run by senior libero Shelbee Berringer and junior defensive specialist Corri Hunt totaling 12 digs each.
Central Arkansas out-blocked Sam Houston State 14-6. There were 26 tied scores and eight lead changes.
The Bearkats will travel to Nacogdoches to face Stephen F. Austin State on Thursday at 6:30 pm.