CONWAY, Ark. – Breanne Chausse delivered a career-high 26 kills and the Sam Houston State Bearkat volleyball took down Southeastern Louisiana, 3-2 (25-19, 18-25, 27-25, 22-25, 15-10) for the second time in the span of a week to advance out of the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament on Friday morning at the Farris Center.
The Kats (17-12) came in as the No. 2 seed in the tournament after having outlasted SLU (14-17) in five sets in Hammond in the regular season finale six days ago. They will now face the winner of No. 3 Northwestern State and No. 6 Houston Baptist on Saturday at noon in the semifinals for a berth in Sunday’s championship match.
It took all SHSU had to get past the Lions as SLU turned in a huge day at the net, totaling 24 blocks as a team. That mark is the second most by a Southland Conference team in any match since 2005, second only to SFA’s 26 blocks vs Rice earlier this year.
Despite the strong net presence by the Lions, who were led by Sam Gomez’s 17 kills and 11 blocks, it did not deter Chausse. The sophomore surpassed her previous career high by six kills, hitting .523 for the match with just three errors on 44 swings.
The Kats were no slouches at the net themselves, totaling 12.5 blocks of their own, led by Kaira Hunnicutt’s career-high 10. Neither team was able to hit above .200, but the SHSU defense was able to hold SLU to just .158 hitting despite three Lions finishing with double-digit kills.
Ashley Lewis took a team-high 45 swings and finished with her 17th double-double of the year with 11 kills and 16 digs. Morgan Janda directed the offense with 34 assists and Madilyn Miles had 18 assists. Addison Miller led all players with 21 digs while Ashleigh Traylor added 18 and Miles had 11.
The Kats set the tone early with a 25-19 win in Set 1, getting five early kills from Chausse and three more from Elise Smith to take the early lead. However, the Lions stormed back in Set 2, getting nine blocks to square it back up. They led by as much as 11 at 23-12 before the Kats put together six straight points before SLU reeled off two straight to end it.
Sam Houston was able to fight off the Lions in extra points in the third set, getting kills by Catherine Krieger and Chausse before a block by Hunnicutt and Lewis put SHSU just one set from victory. The Lions, however, fought back again and forced the deciding set with five blocks and a .222 attack percentage for a 25-22 win in Set 4.
But SHSU had all the answers in the finale, putting together its best offensive set. The Kats had just two errors on 23 swings with 11 kills (.393 percentage) and ended the match with five of the final six points scored to close it out.