RUSTON, La. – Senior outside hitters Brooke White and Jordyn Vaughn each reached career milestones on Friday, helping the Sam Houston State Bearkats to a split of two matches on the opening day of the Lady Techster Invitational at the Thomas Assembly Center.
The Kats (2-7) held a 2-1 lead, but could not hold off the Memphis Tigers in a 3-2 (25-22, 22-25, 31-33, 25-23, 15-10) loss in the opener before they rebounded for a sweep of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (25-13, 25-20, 25-22) in the nightcap.
But despite the loss, the day’s highlight came in the match against the Tigers when both White and Vaughn eclipsed the 1,000-kill mark for their careers. White entered the weekend needing just five kills to get to the magical mark, while Vaughn needed 18, and both turned in big matches to reach the milestone.
The pair reached the mark in emphatic fashion with White finishing with 27 kills against Memphis, just one shy of her career high, hitting .305 in the match. Meanwhile, Vaughn finished with 20, reaching 20 kills in a match for the sixth time in her career.
“I roomed those two in the dorm when they got here and now they are best friends,” Bearkat head coach Brenda Gray said. “They do everything together. Last year they were neck and neck. The mere fact that the two of them to hit 1,000 is very exciting, and for it to have happened in the same match makes it that much better. I couldn’t be happier for the two of them. I haven’t had a lot like these two and they’ll never forget this.”
Unfortunately, the efforts did not result in a Bearkat win over the Tigers. The Kats got big matches from not only White and Vaughn, who added 13 and 15 digs apiece to finish with double-doubles, but also from Jaclyn Ward and Addison Miller. Ward set a new career high for the second straight match with 57 kills while also adding three blocks, while Miller delivered a team-high 19 digs.
But Memphis delivered 15 blocks as a team and was able to take advantage of a rough day for the Kats at the service line as Sam Houston finished with 20 service errors.
The Bearkats and Tigers split the first two sets before Sam Houston managed to outlast Memphis in a marathon third set that saw Vaughn score nine of her kills in a 33-31 win that gave the Kats a 2-1 edge in the match.
Sam Houston then found itself up 20-16 in the fourth set, just five points away from a win, before the Tigers went on a run. Memphis would come all the way back, scoring six of the next seven points to go up 22-21. Ward found Vaughn for a kill to even it up at 22-22, but consecutive kills from Tai Bierria was followed two play later by an attack error that sent the match to a decisive fifth set.
The teams stayed neck-and-neck until the 11-10 point when a Memphis block gave them the lead. From there they would follow with four more consecutive points to secure the comeback victory.
But the Kats would rebound in the afternoon, rolling by UAPB in just three sets. White and Vaughn would lead the way once again with White tallying a dozen more kills and Vaughn 10 of her own. Sam Houston would hit better than .300 in each of the first two sets, and managed to get 13 players in the match.
Ward would pick up a double-double with 25 assists and 12 digs, while Madison Wallace finished with her second straight match in double-digit digs with 13 of her own.
The Kats will go after another win on Saturday when they battle host Louisiana Tech at noon at the Thomas Assembly Center.