The Sam Houston State volleyball team took on the Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions on Thursday night for their second game in a one-week span. Like Tuesday night’s win over the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, the Bearkats dominated in the Southland Conference showdown, beating the Lady Lions in four sets. (25-15, 25-19, 25-13, 25-28).
The Bearkats took control of the first set early on. Junior outside hitter Jordyn Vaughn got the team rolling with two early kills. After a back and forth start, the Bearkats took command of the set with a 16-11 lead, which led to a Lady Lion timeout.
The Bearkats’ outside hitters were very impressive, as it seemed every time they got their chance they finished it off. The demanding first set was ended by a combination block from outside hitters sophomore Taylor Cunningham and junior Brooke White. The Kats took the first set 25-15.
The second set was similar to the first, with the Bearkats taking another commanding lead, but this time was different.
The Lady Lions responded.
Led by their blocking, Southeastern Louisiana scored four straight points to take a 9-7 lead. The second set continued the same way it began; the two teams were very back and forth, which led to a tie at 14. The Lady Lions were spurred on by their blocking, which had been stellar throughout the entire second set. The Lady Lion front line was very impressive both offensively and defensively, as they seemed to block every Bearkat attack, and finished every attack of their own with authority. At one point, the Lions went on a 9-2 run, which helped them win the set 25-19. The drop off in energy from the first set to the second was noticeable for the Bearkats.
“I think we dropped our energy a little,” Vaughn said. “We had to crank it up a little bit because they were a lot better than we imagined.”
Exiting locker room with renewed energy, the Bearkats focused on the crucial third set.
White paced the Bearkats with four of the team’s first eight points to give SHSU an 8-4 lead. After a Lion timeout, the Bearkats blocking became a major problem for the Louisiana team. The Kats blocked three straight from the Lions, forcing them to call multiple timeouts. SHSU was firing on all cylinders, and came away with the third set by a score of 25-13.
“We came out well in the third set because we changed some things up,” head coach Brenda Gray said. “We changed up where we were serving to change the trajectory of the ball a little bit.”
With the Lady Lions against the ropes in the fourth set, the team jumped out to an early 10-8 lead. The fourth set began to very much resemble the second, but unlike the second the Bearkats responded to the Lady Lions run.
The Bearkats responded with three straight points to take an 11-10 lead. The fourth set continued to go back and forth, as neither team could separate. With the match win in sight, the Bearkats began to impose their will. The Lady Lions had no answer for Vaughn or White, who finished the match with 15 kills and 17 kills respectively. The Bearkats would go on to take the fourth set 25-18 and win the match three sets to one.
Like Tuesday’s game against SFA, the Bearkat attack was once again in full motion, with the help of senior setter Michelle Griffith. The Kats hit a .279 attacking percentage and tallied a total of 58 kills in four sets. Griffith led the way in assists with 43. Senior defensive specialist Claire Kilpatrick led the Bearkats on the defensive side with 17 digs.
With the win Thursday night, the Bearkats improve their Southland Conference record to 8-5 and still sit in fourth place in the conference standings. Up next, the Bearkats will take on the University of New Orleans Privateers on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Health and Kinesiology Center.