SAN MARCOS – The Sam Houston State Bearkats went the full five sets in a pair of matches on Friday afternoon, splitting those contests on the opening day of the Creeds & Crest Classic at Strahan Arena.

 

The Kats trailed 2-1 in both matches before forcing fifth sets each time, falling to George Washington in the opener before taking down UTSA in the finale.

 

They will close out the weekend on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. when they take on host Texas State.

 

George Washington 3, Sam Houston State 2 – Box Score

The Bearkats clawed their way back from being down 2-1 and then held as much as a 4-point lead late in Set 5 before George Washington closed the match on an 8-2 run to steal a win in the tournament opener.

 

The Colonials scored four of the final six points to steal the opening set, but the Kats immediately returned the favor in taking the second set to even things up. But after hitting over .200 in each of the first two frames, SHSU hit a match-low .075 in Set 3 to put its back against the wall before responding with 18 kills in Set 4 to force a decisive fifth set.

 

There the Kats followed kills from Ashley Lewis and Kaira Hunnicutt to lead as much as 12-8 after the midway point. GW would fight back behind Skylar Iott, who finished with a match-high 26 kills, but SHSU still found itself with a match-point try at 14-12 after a Colonial error.

 

SHSU, however, could not capitalize as consecutive unforced errors of their own allowed GW to tie it up at 14-14 and after an ace from Caroline Sklaver gave the Colonials a chance, they took advantage to close things out on their first match-point try.

 

The Kats finished with the edge in kills and attack percentage, but GW did much of its damage at the net, finishing with 16.5 blocks for the match while the Kats had just 6.0. Breanne Chausse’s 18 kills led another strong offensive effort for SHSU, one which also included a double-double from Lewis (17 kills, 15 digs) and 14 scores from Samantha Rodgers.

 

Lewis was one of three Kats with a double-double as she was also joined by Madilyn Miles (25 assists, 14 digs) and Morgan Janda (21 assists, 11 digs). Addison Miller led SHSU with 24 digs and Elise Smith had a hand in on five of the Kats’ six blocks.

 

UTSA 3, Sam Houston State 1 – Box Score

For the second time in two matches the Bearkats found themselves down 2-1 after three sets and for the second time in as many matches the Kats were able to force a decisive fifth set; however, SHSU was able to push its way to the finish line first in the nightcap, picking up a 3-2 win over former Southland Conference rival UTSA.

 

Lewis delivered another double-double with 15 kills and 12 digs, as did Madilyn Miles with 25 assists and 14 digs. But it was the Bearkats’ surge in the final two sets that proved to be what they needed as they hit .333 in the fourth and fifth sets while holding the Roadrunners to -.111 hitting in the finale to pick up the win.

 

Ashleigh Traylor and Addison Miller joined Lewis and Miles in double-figure digs with 18 and 19 apiece, respectively. Janda also dished out 24 assists while Smith had six blocks. Kaira Hunnicutt also had six blocks to go with eight kills.

 

The Roadrunners held an early 9-4 lead before the Bearkats caught fire, going on a 15-3 run that put them up 19-12 on their way to a 25-21 win in the opening frame. The second set did not go as well as UTSA scored the first seven points of the set until Hunnicutt and Chausse rejected a shot to get the Kats on the board.

 

The lead would grow to as much as eight points for UTSA before once again the Kats put together a mid-set rally. The Kats still trailed 18-11 before a 9-3 run got SHSU back to within a point at 21-20 on another block by Hunnicutt and Rodgers. Still, UTSA was able to muster up just enough to keep the Kats at bay for a 25-22 win to even up the match.

 

But from there, it was all Bearkats, starting in Set 4 where they hit .378 and never trailed to force a fifth set for the second time on the day. Then, in Set 5, the Kats opened up with consecutive points and quickly build a 9-3 lead on the strength of kills from four different players and added another 4-0 spurt on a kill from Chausse and a combied block from Hunnicutt and Catherine Krieger.

 

Down 13-5, UTSA managed to cut the score back to 14-9, but Krieger delivered the final blow with a kill to clinch the match.