NACOGDOCHES – In a battle for first place, the league-leading Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks held serve on their home floor on Thursday night, snapping Sam Houston’s 10-match win streak with a 3-1 (25-16, 25-14, 25-27, 25-21) win at Shelton Gym.
The Ladyjacks (26-2, 13-0 SLC) now lead the Bearkats (20-6, 12-2 SLC) by 1.5 games with league play finished next week, and extend their own win streak to 23 in a row.
It was a battle against two teams ranked at the top of the Southland Conference in digs and opponent’s hitting percentage, but it was SFA who was able to hold the Kats to just .126 hitting for the night despite 14 kills, 11 digs and six blocks from Taylor Cunningham. Breanne Chausse added 10 kills and Madison Wallace finished with 21 digs as one of four Kats in double-figure digs.
The Bearkats will now look to get back into the win column on Saturday when they travel to Conway, Ark. to battle Central Arkansas at the Prince Center. First serve is set for noon.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Ladyjacks hit .500 and did not trail after the early going of the first set, despite five kills from Cunningham. Sam Houston trailed by six but was able to cut the lead to 18-14 on consecutive scores from Ashley Lewis and Caroline Sheaff, but SFA answered with a kill Aniya Williams and surged to the finish line with 18 total kills in the set.
The second set did not fare much better for Sam Houston as the Ladyjacks put home another 14 kills and hit .364, while holding the Bearkats to just .059 hitting. SFA held an 18-8 lead and never trailed in the set.
But the Kats rallied, coming back to take the third set and extend the match. The Kats hit just .148 in the set, but got six kills from Cunningham and fought back after trailing 16-12 midway through. Still, despite taking the lead 18-16 after six straight points, the Kats still had to fight off a pair of match points before finishing it out on a block from Cunningham and Sheaff to stay alive and hand SFA just its fifth set loss in SLC play.
SFA managed to put it away a set later, though, despite the Kats holding them to just .098 hitting. It was close early with the Kats within a pair at 11-9 before SFA went on a run that stretched its lead to 20-13. Sam Houston had one last push and fought off three match points before Danae Daron’s 12th kill of the night finished it off for SFA.