NATCHITOCHES, La. – The Sam Houston State volleyball team fought valiantly, but dropped a 3-0 decision to the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears, Saturday afternoon in the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament at Prather Coliseum.
Sam Houston jumped out to an early 3-2 lead to start the first thanks to an ace from Wallace and a Cunningham kill. After UCA took a brief lead, the Bearkats battled back and used a kill from Jaclyn Ward to lead 7-5.
However, UCA reclaimed the lead on a 6-1 run and never surrendered for the rest of the set. After going down 12-10, Sam Houston took advantage of a UCA attack error and kill from senior Jordan Kiley to tie things up at 12 points apiece. Despite Sam Houston’s best efforts, the Sugar Bears’ used a 3-0 run at the end of the set to clinch the opener 25-20.
The two teams stood neck and neck to start the second, tying on four separate occasions before either team broke through the 10-point mark. Responding to a three-point UCA run, Sam Houston capitalized on three Sugar Bear errors to even things back up, 13-13.
Utilizing kills from Ward, Amanda Gooch and a misfire from UCA, the Bearkats tied up the match four more times and came within two points of the Sugar Bears at 23-21. However, UCA’s Samantha Anderson and Haley Tippett laid down a block and a kill to put away the second set, 25-21 in favor of the Sugar Bears.
A kill from Cunningham and a Wallace ace gave Sam Houston a 2-1 lead to begin the third set and Sam Houston was able to stay ahead 4-3 after Ashley Lewis earned back-to-back points on a kill and an ace.
The Bearkat momentum was short-lived as UCA tallied three unanswered points and took a 6-4 lead. The Bearkats stayed within two points of the Sugar Bears until a seven-point run put Sam Houston in a 19-10 deficit. An attack error by UCA’s Kellen Dunn ended Sugar Bears’ streak, but an error from Cunningham made it 20-11 for UCA.
Gooch recorded the Bearkats 12th and final point of the match before UCA closed out the set with five unanswered points to claim the 3-0 shutout over Sam Houston. Sam Houston finished the season with a 22-8 overall record and 13-3 mark in the Southland Conference.