HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State jumped ahead after three sets and took an early five-point lead in the deciding fifth set but eventually fell, 3-2 (33-31, 15-25, 25-14, 20-25, 10-15) on Tuesday night at Johnson Coliseum.
The Bearkats (1-6), backed by 886 supporters including some raucous from the Arkansas Army National Guard, were led by Brooke White’s 20 kills. The senior outside hitter finished with the double-double, adding 16 digs in the loss.
Three players finished with double-digit kills as White was joined by Jordyn Vaughn (16) and Taylor Cunningham (11). The Bobcats (4-2) produced a .190 attack percentage to the Bearkats’ .162 and out-blocked Sam Houston, 12-7.
Sam Houston returns to action on Friday at the Lady Techster Invitational in Ruston, La. The Bearkats open the first of three sets on the weekend against Memphis at 10 a.m. The squad will face Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 5 p.m. before closing out the tournament on Saturday against the host Lady Techsters at 12 p.m.
Sam Houston seemed in cruise control, leading Texas State before the Bobcats surged back to tie the match at 16-16. Texas State captured four of five points to take a 21-18 lead and force a Sam Houston timeout. The Cats advantage reached 23-19 before Sam Houston stormed back to bring things within one at 23-22.
Texas State served seven set points in the frame, including the first at 24-22 but each time, Sam Houston battled back. After falling behind 31-30, the Kats rallied off the final two points needed, using kills from Brooke White and Madison Wallace to win 33-31.
Jordyn Vaughn, Taylor Cunningham and Madison Wallace each registered four kills while Jaclyn Ward added 14 assists in the set. Sam Houston out-blocked the Cats, 4-2, in a set that saw 10 ties and just two lead changes.
The back-and-forth continued early in the second set but the Bobcats used a 4-0 run to take a 13-10 lead and force a Sam Houston timeout. The Bearkats continued to struggle out of the timeout as the run reached 7-0 before a set error brought the Kats back within five at 16-11.
After the squads were knotted at 10-10, Texas State rallied off 11 of 14 points, forcing another Sam Houston timeout with the Kats trailing 20-13. After producing a .386 kill percentage in the opening set, Sam Houston was held to -.103 in the second.
Texas State wasted little time, taking the first three points of the set but the Bearkats flexed their muscle. After bringing things within one at 6-5, Sam Houston produced three of the next four points, forcing a Bobcats timeout while building a 10-7 lead.
Sam Houston built on its run, running off five straight points highlighted by a Madison Miller kill. The squad hit a scoring .441 in the frame, while showing its tenacity defensively. The Kats outscoring the Cats, 20-8 to conclude the frame.
After six early lead changes in the fourth, Texas State built an 11-8 advantage. The Bearkats kept it close, using a Vaughn kill to even the set at 11-11 and an attack error to tie things at 12-12; however, four-straight from the Bobcats pushed the visitors’ lead to 16-12.
Sam Houston brought it within two at 18-16, helped by a 20th kill from White but seven of the last 11 points belonged to the Bobcats, who closed out the frame with a 25-20 win.
The Bearkats reversed the momentum in the winner-take-all set, jumping out to a 6-1 advantage highlighted by a pair of service aces, coming from White and Miller.
Texas State called timeout and reversed its fortunes, scoring three-straight to bring the match within a pair. The Cats made it seven straight, taking an 8-6 lead at the change, including four consecutive following a Sam Houston timeout for an 8-6, Cats edge.
An eighth straight point put Texas State ahead 9-6, forcing a Sam Houston timeout. Vaughn finally put the Bobcats streak to an end with a kill and an error brought the Kats within one at 9-8. Sam Houston could not draw any closer as Texas State produced four of the final five points in the set including three consecutive to win the set, 15-10.
QUOTEABLES: Head coach Brenda Gray on the five-set loss…
“We couldn’t wait to get over here today. We couldn’t wait to play at our own facility. I think our venue brings a lot of energy. I thought we played pretty dog-gone good until we hit that fifth set. We were up 6-1 and I had to call two timeouts. We just didn’t move right there. We talked about that a little bit. Someone has to be demanding a little more. I think our team can be really good, we just have to finish.”
Head coach Brenda Gray on the message to the team afterwards…
“I really wanted to play this match. This group is a little younger. I know some people think we need to practice a little more. In my mindset, I don’t know if we would have ever seen that fifth set implosion, not that we imploded too bad, in a practice. It was very evident for me that we needed to demand something there.”
Head coach Brenda Gray on the performance from Brooke White…
“Brooke has started for us since she’s a freshman. I remember seeing her thinking there would be no way she wouldn’t get taken. She’s terrific. She performed like this the last couple of matches. That’s why she’s out there. I thought she played terrific.”