Kats Drop Hard Fought Road Battle 3-1 to First Place SFA

Photographer: Colton Foster

Words cannot describe the atmosphere as Sam Houston State University volleyball traveled to Stephen F. Austin to face the rival Ladyjacks in an absolutely hostile environment and eventually dropped an intense match 3-1.

“There’s just a lot of energy,” head coach Brenda Gray said. “We knew the gym would be packed. This is Division I volleyball. This is what it’s all about. We just love the game, love the atmosphere, and we used it to fuel ourselves.”

In a contest filled with long rallies and a ton of back-and-forth scoring, the Bearkats shocked the electric crowd at Shelton Gym by winning the first set 25-17 thanks to a kill by freshman outside hitter Samantha Rodgers.

“If there is a word I can use to describe [Rodgers], it’s explosive,” Gray said. “I’m just so proud of her.”

SFA bounced back in the second set, jumping out to a 15-12 lead. A kill by Rodgers and a service ace from Elise Smith closed the gap to 15-14, but the Jacks tallied four straight points and pulled away 20-15. SHSU went on a scoring run of its own, grabbing four consecutive points including a service ace from Ashleigh Traylor to get back into the match. The Kats’ resiliency eventually wore down, and SFA won the second set 27-25.

The third set saw the score from the opening set flipped around as SFA played its most dominant set of the night, beating SHSU 25-17.

The fourth set was a must-win for the Bearkats who were looking to force a decisive fifth set. The Kats fell behind 17-12 early, but went on an impressive 10-0 run to jump on top 22-17. The Ladyjacks showed why they are undefeated, though, fighting back and clawing their way to a 3-1 match win by taking the fourth set 26-24.

“If there’s one thing I can say about my team, ‘They’re going to fight,’” Gray said. “I’m very proud of their performance. SFA has had a great year. They’re a heck of a ball club. We knew that coming in. They’re just doing spectacular things this year.”

SHSU hits the court again Saturday at 11 a.m. at Abilene Christian University. The Bearkats then return home next week for a critical match Nov. 7 versus Northwestern State University at 6:30 p.m.

Key players/ statistics:

Senior Addison Miller became the third player in SHSU school history to tally 40 digs in a single match!

Junior Ashley Lewis led the Bearkats with 20 kills.

Samantha Rodgers led the Kats’ squad with a .257 hitting percentage and was second in kills (14) and total points (14.5).

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