THIBODAUX, La. – The Sam Houston State Bearkats cruised to their fifth straight win on Thursday night, sweeping past Nicholls for the second time in the span of nine days, 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-13) at Stopher Gym on Thursday.
The win, coupled with a 3-2 win by Central Arkansas over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Conway, gives the Kats sole possession of first place in the Southland going into the weekend.
Brooke White had a match high 13 kills in the 3-set affair as the Kats (8-9, 5-0 SLC) fought off a tough first set to continue on their best league start since 2013. The senior outside hitter hit .219 on the night on 32 swings, while Jordyn Vaughn added nine kills on 31 tries against the Colonels (2-16, 0-6 SLC).
Taylor Cunningham did not misfire once on 14 attempts, scoring eight kills and hitting .571 with a hand in four of Sam’s eight blocks on the night. Freshman Courtney Littlefield had four scores and three blocks, while Jaclyn Ward had 30 assists and Addison Miller added a dozen digs.
Neither team looked sharp in the opening set offensively, but the Kats were able to overcome a late 7-0 run by the Colonels to take a 1-0 lead in the match. White turned in four kills in the set, while Cunningham and Vaughn had three apiece despite both teams hitting just .103. The Kats lead 19-16 late in the set before Nicholls reeled off seven straight points to go up 23-20. But a kill from Vaughn, followed by two Colonel errors squared it up, and after the Colonels evened it up at 24-24, Vaughn and Cunningham delivered consecutive scores to give the Kats the set win.
White added six more kills in the second frame as the Bearkat defense held Nicholls to just .086 hitting for the set. Sam held an 18-15 lead late in the set when Ward found White for a score, but a Nicholls block started a quick spurt that brought the Colonels back, eventually tying it up at 21-21 on a kill from Imanie Williams who had 10 in the match. However, one point later Vaughn broke the tie with a kill and White added another, forcing a Colonel timeout that did not aid as the Kats claimed the set with scores on the next two points, including an ace from Miller to close it out.
Sam Houston poured it on in the third set, coming out on fire after the break. The teams found themselves tied at 7-7 in the early going before a Nicholls service error got the Kats going. Sam would score 12 of the next 14 points to open it up, going up as much as 19-8 when Ward found the floor with a score. The Kats would go on to hit .333 in the set with just three misfires on 27 tries, while holding the Colonels to just .038 on the other side.
The Bearkats will try to run their record to 6-0 in Southland play on Saturday when they travel to Lake Charles for a 12:30 p.m. meeting with McNeese.