The Sam Houston State Bearkat volleyball team fell just short of the Southland Conference title earlier to this month, falling to the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders 3-1. The Bearkats will now reload as the team will need to replace four players from this year’s squad. SHSU has helped themselves out by signing five new recruits to the program for next season.
Two of those five players, Courtney Littlefield, an outside hitter from Willis, and Caroline Sheaff, a 6 foot-3-inch middle blocker from Tomball, will begin attending the SHSU at the start of the Spring semester. Both Littlefield and Sheaff were home schooled and played volleyball for Sports Association of Christian Homeschoolers (SATCH) throughout their high school careers.
Beginning offseason training with the team in the spring should give the incoming freshmen a head start going into next season.
“If I could get every one of my kids to come in the spring I would,” head coach Brenda Gray said. “Spring to me is really harder than the fall because you’re lifting at five in the morning three times a week and you’re doing a lot of conditioning and individual training.”
The Bearkats will also add Ashley Lewis, an outside hitter from Houston, Jordan Kiley, an outside hitter from McKinney and Madilyn Miles, a setter from Mont Belvieu, TX. These incoming freshman will begin their collegiate careers starting next fall.
Lewis played her high school volleyball at Langham Creek High School. Throughout her senior year, Lewis accumulated 391 kills, 82 blocks and 411 digs. She led her team to a share of the 17-6A district title, as well as picking up the district’s attacker of the year award.
Kiley attended Boyd High School and finished her senior season with 439 kills and 510 digs. She led her team to the playoffs and was named first team all-district.
Miles, a setter for Barbers Hill High School, was a two-time captain for the Eagles, and led her team to the regional semifinals twice throughout her high school career. Miles was named the 21-5A setter of the year this past season.
Despite these players’ great accomplishments in high school, college is a different game and the new players will need to prove that they can adjust themselves to the Bearkats’ system immediately in order to get playing time.
“Everybody looks great in high school,” Gray said. “You have to figure out if these players can play in your system and if they know your system.”
Currently, the Bearkats will be bringing in five new players, with 12 returning to the squad. The Bearkats are hoping that with these additions, plus the development of returning players, will help get them over the final hump in order to win the conference title.