Southland Conference Tournament
Nov. 17-19 • Corpus Christi • Dugan Wellness Center
HUNTSVILLE – The second season begins on Friday for the Sam Houston State Bearkats as they kick off the Southland Conference Tournament at the Dugan Wellness Center in Corpus Christi.
The Kats opened up league play with wins in their first nine matches before finishing 10-6 and claiming the No. 6 seed in the tournament. They will open up against the No. 3 seed, host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 6:30 p.m. on Friday on the Islanders’ home court with the winner moving on to face the winner of No. 2 Central Arkansas and No. 7 McNeese on Saturday for a berth in Sunday’s title match.
Sam Houston will be in search of its third tournament title in its history with Friday’s match being a replay of last season’s championship match that saw the Islanders take a 3-1 win in Conway, Ark., to claim their second straight crown. The teams split their two matches against each other this season with each winning on its home court.
But TAMUCC has been the hottest team in the league since falling to the Kats on Oct. 21, not losing a set in five matches to close the regular season. Of those five wins, four came against tournament teams, including a road sweep of league champion Stephen F. Austin.
The Kats will come into Friday having claimed three all-conference honors earlier in the week as Jordyn Vaughn and Taylor Cunningham were each named to the first team and Brooke White to the second team. Vaughn currently leads the league with 3.88 kills per set for the season, while Cunningham’s 1.37 blocks per set in league-only matches was a league high.
White also ranks in the top 10 in kills per set and is only 13 digs away from becoming the 14th player in Bearkat history to reach 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs for a career.
This marks the 11th consecutive appearance in the SLC Tournament for the Bearkats, last missing the event in 2006. Sam Houston has made three finals appearances, including last season when the Kats fell 3-1 to A&M-Corpus Christi in the title match. The Kats won their previous two trips to the finals in both 1996 and 1993. Should the Kats win the tournament it would move them into a tie with Lamar for the second most tournament titles among active SLC members.
The Kats are 19-21 all-time in SLC Tournament play and are 0-2 in the tournament against the Islanders. Sam Houston is also 1-0 in the tournament against Central Arkansas and is 3-0 against McNeese, having not faced the Cowgirls in the league tournament since 1994 in Huntsville.
This season is only the second time the Bearkats have been the No. 6 seed in the tournament and the first time since 2004 when they fell to No. 3 UT Arlington in the first round.
vs Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
The Bearkats lead the all-time series with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by a 20-15 margin after splitting two matches vs the Islanders this year. The win in Huntsville snapped a six-match losing streak to the Islanders and the Kats will be looking to snap another on Friday, having not won in Corpus Christi in their last six matches since a 3-0 win in 2012.
vs Central Arkansas
Central Arkansas owns a 10-6 advantage in the all-time series against Sam Houston with all matches being played since the Sugar Bears joined the Southland Conference for the 2006 season. The Sugar Bears took the only meeting between the teams this season, 3-0, in Conway on Oct. 28.
Sam Houston owns a 26-19 advantage in the all-time series against the Cowgirls, including wins in 10 of the last 12 meetings. The Kats picked up a 3-1 win in Lake Charles on Oct. 7 over the Cowgirls in the teams’ only meeting this year.