HUNTSVILLE – It wasn’t easy, but the Sam Houston State Bearkat volleyball team came up with just enough to remain unbeaten in Southland Conference play with a 3-2 (25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 22-25, 15-13) win over Houston Baptist on Thursday night at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
Ashley Lewis had 19 kills and Addison Miller had a huge night defensively with 37 digs, but it was 14 total blocks by the Bearkat (9-8, 5-0 SLC) defense that truly proved to be the difference against an HBU (10-10, 2-3 SLC) squad that featured four players in double-figure kills.
The Kats hit just .131 for the match with the Huskies finishing with 14 more kills, but the SHSU defense held HBU to just .180 hitting on their side. Lewis took 65 swings to get her 19 scores, including the final point of the match after HBU had cut a 14-8 lead down to 14-13 in Set 5. The junior also added 17 digs and was joined by Madilyn Miles (22 assists, 14 digs) with a double-double.
Miller, meanwhile, followed up her SLC Defensive Player of the Week honor on Monday with a huge match on Thursday. The senior set a new career high of 37 digs, eight more than her previous high, in a total that tied for the seventh most in Bearkat history.
Ashleigh Traylor added 13 digs of her own, while Kaira Hunnicutt added six kills to her seven blocks. Catherine Krieger added 14 kills as well for the Kats.
The Kats had to hold off the Huskies on multiple occasions in the match, starting in Set 1 when SHSU held a 24-18 lead before HBU reeled off four straight points before the Kats were able to close them out.
Sam Houston pulled off a late rally of its own in Set 2, erasing a 23-22 deficit when they forced a pair of HBU miscues before Hunnicutt delivered a set-clinching point at the net. HBU then responded by taking a 25-23 win in Set 3 to stay alive, but found itself down 22-18 late in Set 4 before Ebonie Ballesteros sided out with a score and Morgan Dewyer served out the final six points of the frame to push the Kats to a deciding fifth set.
Kills by Lewis and Samantha Rodgers gave the Kats a lead midway through the set before an HBU service error sparked a quick 7-1 run that pushed things to set point at 14-8; however, once again HBU responded, this time with five consecutive scores before Morgan Janda found Lewis for the final score of the match.
Sam Houston still stands with Stephen F. Austin as the two teams still unbeaten in league play and they will look to push their mark to 6-0 on Saturday when they host Lamar. First serve is set for 11:00 a.m. at Johnson Coliseum.