Huntsville - Down two sets to one and trailing 20-16 in the fourth set, Sam Houston battled back to defeat the University of Louisiana -Lafayette in five sets for a win in the Bearkats' 2012 season opener.
SHSU earned the win by a score of 14-25 25-21 25-27 28-26 15-11 in the squad's first outing in the 26th Sam Houston Volleyball Classic. The Kats are the tournament's defending champion.
Four Bearkats totaled double figure kills. Deveney Wells-Gibson led the way with 19 kills. Kendall Cleveland added 14, Kim Black had 12 and Haley Neisler 10.
Lavina Tataran led the Ragin' Cajuns with 15 kills. The final score of the match was 14-25 25-21 25-27 28-26 15-11.
"You have to admire the way the team fought back," SHSU head coach Brenda Gray said. "We tried a lot of different lineup combinations tonight. They played with a lot of heart. It was a great way to start the season."
One of Black's kills gave the Kats set point at 27-26 in the fourth and freshman Bridgette Bennett sent the contest in the fifth set with a service ace.
Sam Houston made only one attack error in 16 attempts in the final set, rolling to a 15-11 win. The Kats took a quick 3-1 lead and never trailed the rest of the set with Cleveland picking up the kill on match point.
Tayler Gray ran the floor for the Kats, picking up 57 assists and leading the defense with 25 digs.
Other action in the Sam Houston State invitational:
COLORADO def. TEXAS SOUTHERN 25-8 25-14 25-8
Kelsey English totaled 10 kills and Alexis Austin added nine to lead the Buffs to a three-set victory over Texas Southern in an hour long match. Mona Reed led the Tigers with five kills. The Buffs posted 61 points with 44 kills, 12 service aces and five blocks. Texas Southern totaled 20 points including 15 kills.
The Sam Houston volleyball tournament continues with four matches Saturday. Colorado faces Louisiana-Lafayette at 10 a.m.; Sam Houston hosts Texas Southern at 1 p.m.; the Ragin' Cujuns conclude their visit to Huntsville against the Tigers at 4 p.m. and Sam Houston and Colorado face off at 7 p.m.