Volleyball season ends in championship game loss

Photo courtesy of Leila De La Cruz

The Sam Houston Bearkats ended their season in a five-set loss to the conference tournament host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders in the Southland Conference Tournament championship match. This is now the second consecutive season the Bearkats have finished as SLC tournament runners-up.

The Bearkats would only play two matches in the conference tournament thanks to a second-place finish in the regular season, earning them a double-bye. Sam Houston finished the regular season with a 10-2 record, with all of their matches being against conference opponents.

The University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears would be their first opponent, coming in the semifinals of the tournament. This was a rematch of the season opener for the Bearkats in which the Sugar Bears took the victory in five sets. This time around, Sam Houston would have their way in a four-set match win.

Leading the way for the Bearkats was senior outside hitter Ashley Lewis who led both teams with 19 kills. Lewis would end the tournament with a total of 39 kills in the two matches Sam Houston would play. Another standout for the Bearkats was freshman middle blocker McKenzie Morvant led the first match with seven blocks. The box score would show a 25-21, 25-17, 20-25, 25-22 final score line.

Thanks to the win, Sam Houston would find themselves going up against the host school in the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders. The Islanders were coming off a 3-0 upset against the SLC regular-season champion Stephen F. Austin State University Ladyjacks. The only time the Bearkats and Islanders met up was a 3-1 match victory for Sam Houston on March 4.

In the first set of the championship game taking place April 3, the Islanders were able to take the first match with a score of 25-19. The Bearkats would fight till the end of the second set as it ended with the highest score of the match, 36-34 in favor of Sam Houston. The Islanders would take the third set in a narrow 25-23 victory. The Bearkats responded once again, taking the fourth set with a 25-13 scoring line. The Bearkats would fall in the final set 15-12, ending their season.

Sam Houston now sets their hopes on an invitation into the National Invitational Volleyball Championships (NIVC) to continue their 2021 season. If no invite shows up, then the Bearkats will not have another match until this fall, when they start their first season as a new member of the Western Athletic Conference.

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