By Cheval John, The Houstonian

With two weeks left in the regular season and then the Southland Conference tournament in Conway, Ark., senior middle blocker Kim Black's outstanding four-year career at Sam Houston State is nearing completion.

The journey has been the fulfillment of her dream of playing intercollegiate volleyball.

The accounting major from Huntsville ranks among the top five on the team in kills and stands third in the Southland Conference in blocks.

"Each and every day, I strive to improve in practice, through games and through anything that I do to get better," Black said.

Black was a four-time Academic All-District selection and was team "Most Valuable Player" at Huntsville High School where she led the Hornets to the regional semifinals in 2007.

Wanting to stay close to home, she choose to attend Sam Houston State. During her Bearkat career she has been a three-time Southland Conference Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll selection, earned All-Southland Conference honorable mention honors as a junior and put her name in the record books as one of the program's top 10 all-time middle blockers.

She started in 65 matches as a sophomore and a junior. Her season total of 139 blocks last year is the highest by a Bearkat since Sam Houston moved up to the NCAA level.

"It comes to down to the pin blockers that are helping you," Black said. "I could not have improved with them."

Now in her senior season, she has shown determination to improve her game.

"Kim has come a long way," head coach Brenda Gray said. "She is a great example to her team."

Black's play was recognized across the league when she was named as Southland Conference volleyball "Defensive Player of the Week" on Sept. 27.

Black led the Bearkat defense with 15 total blocks to help Sam Houston State jump out to a 3-0 start in conference play with wins over defending regular-season champion Central Arkansas and Northwestern State.

Now, as one of four senior leaders of the 2011 team, Black's goal is to see the team work together as a unit and finish the year on a high note.

"Kim wants this team to be successful and to take it to the next level," assistant coach Ellen Andrews said. "The intensity, the fire and the passion she brings to the game is irreplaceable."

Sam Houston wraps up its home schedule Thursday and Saturday with two important matches. The Bearkats play host to UTSA Thursday at 7 p.m. and A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday at 2 p.m.

Tickets for both matches are available online now at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the SHSU ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729.

Sam Houston State University students are admitted to Johnson Coliseum on presentation of their BearkatOne card.