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Courtesy: Southland Conference

NATCHITOCHES, La. – No. 3 Sam Houston State proved too powerful for McNeese as they outlasted the No. 6 Cowgirls 3-1 (23-25, 25-20, 25-14, 26-24) in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup of the 2018 Southland Conference Tournament at Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches, La.
 
The Bearkats (22-7) provided 17 blocks on the afternoon, marking the most by a Sam Houston State team since the 2009 season where they recorded 20.5 against UTSA. Taylor Cunningham came up with 10 blocks on her own to tie her single-game career-high. Cunningham is now the fourth Bearkat in program history to provide 10 or more blocks on multiple occasions.
 
Angela McGownd was the maestro on defense for the Cowgirls providing 27 of McNeese’s (10-22) 73 digs for the match. Keegen Nelms led the McNeese squad with 15 kills.
 
Sam Houston State moves on to the semifinal round where they will face the winner of No. 2 Central Arkansas and No. 7 Northwestern State. Opening serve is scheduled for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on the 
Southland Digital Network.
 
Set One
McNeese hammered home 17 kills from six players in their 25-23 opening-set win over Sam Houston State. Keegan Nelms led the Cowgirls with four kills on 13 swings as McNeese hit a .233 hitting average. McGownd and Alexandra Aguilera combined for 13 of the Cowgirls 18 digs.
 
Set Two
Ashley Lewis and Taylor Cunningham charged the Bearkat offense as the tandem combined for eight of Sam Houston State’s 15 kills. McNeese’s McGownd attempted to divert the SHSU’s offense with nine of the Cowgirl’s 17 digs in the set. Despite McNeese’s defensive efforts, Sam Houston State improved upon their opening set to capture a .289 hitting percentage and a 25-20 win.
 
Set Three
The Bearkats made quick work of the Cowgirls in the third set with a 25-14 victory that was highlighted by a .341 SHSU hitting percentage. Sam Houston State commanded respect at the net with seven blocks that limited McNeese to a .106 hitting average. Cunningham and Lewis once again headlined SHSU’s offense combining for nine of the Bearkats’ 15 kills.
 
Set Four
Amanda Gooch proved to be the deciding factor for Sam Houston State recording five kills in the final set to lift the Bearkats to a 26-24 victory. Offense was level between SHSU and McNeese in the final set as each team recorded 14 kills. However, the Bearkats’ defense held strong with a trio of blocks that helped overcome the Cowgirl attack.