Up two sets to none and ahead 18-16 in the third set, the Bearkats appeared headed towards their second consecutive Sam Houston Volleyball Invitational championship.
But the Colorado Buffs fought back to win 49 of the final 76 points to take the tournament trophy back to the Rockie Mountains with a 19-25 13-25 25-21 25-12 15-12 victory Saturday.
The Buffs placed Alexis Austin, Nicole Edelman and Emily Alexis on the all-tournament team with Austin taking Most Valuable Player honors. Austin led the Buffs in the championship game with 16 kills in 37 attempts and eight blocks.
Sam Houston's Kim Black and Deveney Wells-Gibson also were named all-tournament. Wells-Gibson led SHSU with 16 kills. Black had 12. Kendall Cleveland and Haley Neisler each totaled 11 kills.
The match was tight from beginning to end with 19 ties and 12 lead changes in the five sets.
Colorado totaled 76 points on 57 kills, five aces and 14 blocks. The Kats had 71.
"I think we have a great team. We played with a lot of heart this weekend," SHSU head coach Brenda Gray said. "We came out pretty composed and ready to go. We showed we can play with a Pac-12 team and that means we can play with anybody. We need to learn how to finish."
Earlier in the day, Cleveland and Wells-Gibson led Sam Houston with 10 kills apiece as the Bearkats defeated Texas Southern 25-13 25-11 25-19 for SHSU's second victory in their invitational tournament Saturday afternoon.
Kim Black added nine kills and Carling Urben posted six as the Kats combined for 44 kills for the match. Mona Reed led Texas Southern with eight kills.
Sam Houston only trailed five times in the match, all early in the first and third sets. The Bearkats made only 13 hitting errors in the contest.
Jamie Haas led the defense with nine digs while Tayler Gray added seven and was credited with 33 assists.
COLORADO def. LA-Lafayette 25-14 25-20 25-21
Emily Alexis led both teams with 13 kills as Colorado dispatched the Ragin' Cajuns in an hour and 14 minutes in the third match of the tournament Saturday morning.
Lavinia Tataran and Blair Claypoole led Louisiana-Lafayette each with eight kills. The Buffs totaled 61 points on 49 kills, five service aces and eight blocks. The Ragin' Cajuns totaled 36 points with 32 kills and four blocks
LA-LAFAYETTE def. Texas Southern 25-18 25-17 25-12
Despite a five-minute rain delay due to a leaky roof, Louisiana-Lafayette closed out their visit to the SHSU Invitational with a three-set victory over Texas Southern.
Lavinia Tataran led the Ragin' Cajuns with seven kills. The first and second sets both were tied twice by the Cajuns roared through the third set for the victory.
SHSU VOLLEYBALL INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Alexis Austin, Colorado (MVP)
Nicole Edelman, Colorado
Emily Alexis, Colorado
Kim Black, Sam Houston
Deveney Wells-Gibson, Sam Houston
Andrea Hole, Louisiana-Lafayette
Mona Reed, Texas Southern