SAN ANTONIO – Despite three players finishing in double figure digs, the Sam Houston State Bearkats could not withstand a UIW rally as the Cardinals took the final three sets to steal a 3-1 (18-25, 25-18, 25-18, 28-26) win in the regular season finale for both teams on Saturday at the McDermott Convocation Center.
Despite the loss, the Kats still will make their way to Corpus Christi next weekend to take part in the Southland Conference Tournament. They will enter as the No. 6 seed and take on No. 3 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the first round at 6:30 p.m on Friday at the Dugan Wellness Center.
Sam Houston (14-15, 10-6 SLC) hit .333 in the first set, but no better than .154 in any set the rest of the way as the Cardinals (8-15, 7-9 SLC) picked up their second all-time win over the Kats.
Taylor Cunningham hit .407 with 12 kills for the match while Brooke White also had 12 and 11 digs as one of three players with a double-double. Jordyn Vaughn also had 11 kills and 11 digs, while Jaclyn Ward also had 30 assists and 13 digs. The Kats also got five kills and five blocks from freshman Courtney Littlefield.
Sarea Alexander finished with a match-high 17 kills and Julia Monday had 16 for UIW, who hit .214 as a team for the match.
Four kills from Vaughn got the Kats started on the right foot in the opening set, while a kill from White snapped a 15-15 tie and sparked a 5-1 run that propelled the Kats to a 1-0 lead. They finished the set on a 5-0 run, ending in a kill from Vaughn.
But the second set was a different story as three straight Bearkat attack errors got the Cardinals going and they eventually led by as much as 12 at 23-11 late in the set. The Kats would commit 10 errors in the set after just two in the opener as UIW hit .205 to even things up.
The third set saw UIW use a late push to open up a six-point lead at 19-13. Sam Houston got three kills each from Vaughn, Cunningham and White, but only one more from the rest of the roster while UIW had four players with four kills each in the set.
The Kats played comeback in the fourth set, erasing a 14-6 lead to force extra time. Kills by Littlefield, Vaughn and Madison Wallace tied it up at 16-16 before an ace from White gave Sam Houston the lead. White fought off a match-point try at 24-23 with a kill, but the Kats never got to a set-point try of their own as UIW scored the final three points to finish off the win.