CONWAY, Ark. – Sam Houston recorded a season-high .376 attack percentage advancing to the Southland Conference Tournament championship for the first time in 20 years with a 3-0 semifinals victory against Stephen F. Austin on Saturday afternoon.
The Bearkats (18-13), who entered as the No. 3 seed will meet the winner of top-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and No. 5 Central Arkansas on Sunday at 3:05 p.m. from the Farris Center. The match will be broadcast on ESPN3 and is available via WatchESPN.com and the WatchESPN app.
Sam Houston, who has reached at least the semifinals each of the past two years, is seeking its third Southland Tournament title and fifth overall league championship.
Stephen F. Austin kept the score close in the opening stages but head coach Debbie Humphreys called her first timeout with the Ladyjacks facing a 13-7 deficit. However, her league-best defense failed to slow down the Bearkats, who went on an 8-3 fun to force another SFA timeout with the score at 21-10. Sam Houston State closed out set one on a 4-1, finishing with a dominating 25-11 scoreline.
The Ladyjacks were held to a .000 team hitting percentage while the Bearkats hit an impressive .448 in the first set. Stephen F. Austin failed to tally any blocks and were in single digits for total digs with only nine.
The second set saw better offense for the Ladyjacks but a defense that could not find a way to slow down the Bearkat front row. Humphreys called another early timeout with her team down 8-5. Sam Houston State forged ahead to another comfortable lead, forcing another Stephen F. Austin timeout with the Bearkats up 17-10. The Ladyjacks would bring the score closer with a 7-4 run but would fall 25-20 in set two and face a 2-0 deficit heading into intermission.
Stephen F. Austin produced more offense through the second set as they hit .289 but the defense still lacked against a well-balanced Bearkat attack. Sam Houston State’s defense rounded out a complete Bearkat performance, racking up 39 digs and two total team blocks.
Following another early deficit and timeout for Stephen F. Austin, the Ladyjacks began to step up their offensive firepower, drawing within one point at 7-6 and remaining within striking distance for most of the third set. However, Sam Houston State continued to play one of their most complete matches of the season. Facing a sweep, Humphreys called her final timeout down 18-12. Stephen F. Austin mounted a furious run but the early deficits proved too much to overcome and the Bearkats would complete a 3-0 sweep with a 25-17 final score.
The Bearkats hit .376 and notched 57 total kills while holding the Ladyjacks to .167 and only 28 kills.
PLAYERS OF THE MATCH
Three Sam Houston State players tallied triple-digit kills, led by all three of their All-Conference selections, Brooke White (17) and Jordyn Vaughn (14) and Taylor Cunningham (14). Senior setter Michelle Griffith tallied 48 assists to pace the attack.