SHSU Volleyball Begins Southland Conference Tournament Tomorrow
The Bearkats finished the regular season 12-4 and claimed the No. 2 seed in the Southland Conference Championship. SHSU is loaded with weapons, particularly a pair of all-conference first teamers Ashley Lewis and Addison Miller, who also claimed libero of the year honors for the conference.
Addison Miller: Libero of the Year & All-SLC 1st Team Honors
Miller’s senior year could not have been better. Not only was she selected to the league’s first team, but she garnered the Southland Conference Libero of the Year honor league officials said in a release earlier this week. This marks the second time since the award’s inception in 2004 that a Bearkat took home the honor. The only other time was last year’s winner, Madison Wallace.
Miller finished the season with the most digs in the Southland Conference (575, also an SHSU single-season record) and tied for second in digs per set (5.04). On Oct. 31 in a match at Stephen F. Austin University, Miller became just the third Bearkat in school history to record 40 digs in a single match.
Miller has been the defensive leader of an SHSU squad that has also put up impressive numbers defensively as a team. The Bearkats had the third-lowest opponent hitting percentage in the Southland during the regular season thanks in large part to their 224.5 total blocks (good for third in the conference). Perhaps the most selfless statistic of the year is being second in total assists as a team with 1,399.
“I think off the court carries onto on the court,” Miller said about the team’s chemistry. “That’s the reason why we play so well. We know that we have each other’s backs, and we know we’re gonna pick up the slack if someone doesn’t do their job.”
Ashley Lewis: Offensive Leader & All-SLC 1st Team Honors
Lewis saw a major spike in playing time this year during her junior campaign, playing 114 sets and finishing third in the conference in kills (422) and total points (469). As a team, the Kats were first overall in kills per set: averaging 13.36 kills per set for a second-place total of 1,523 on the year.
“It’s a mindset,” Lewis said about her dominant performance during the regular season. “If I come into the match knowing I’m going to get the job done, then I’ll get it done. I feel really confident [about the SLC Tournament]. We’ve said from the beginning of the year that our goal is a conference championship.”
Road to the Championship
No. 2 SHSU begins tournament play Friday morning at 11 a.m. against No. 7 Southeastern Louisiana. The Bearkats swept the Lions in the regular season, beating them 3-0 in Huntsville Oct. 5 and 3-2 on the road to close out the season Nov. 16. If the Kats advance to the semifinals, they will match up with the winner of No. 3 Northwestern State and No. 6 Houston Baptist University. SHSU beat NSU 3-1 on the road to open conference play earlier this season. The only other matchup was a 3-2 win at home Nov. 7. The Bearkats and Huskies met only once, and SHSU downed HBU 3-2 at Johnson Coliseum Oct. 10.
On the other side of the bracket, all roads to an NCAA Tournament bid run through the undefeated Ladyjacks from Stephen F. Austin University. SFA beat SHSU 3-1 in Nacogdoches in the only meeting this year between the rivals.