COLLEGE STATION – Playing its third match in less than a 24-hour span, the Sam Houston State Bearkats took a set off of VCU but could not hold back a balanced Ram attack in falling 3-1 (25-13, 25-27, 25-20, 25-15) in the finale of the Texas A&M Invitational on Saturday morning at Reed Arena.
Jordyn Vaughn, Brooke White and Taylor Cunningham combined for 38 kills and Jaclyn Ward had her second career double-double for the Bearkats (0-3), but six Rams (2-0) had at least six kills as they picked up their second win in as many days.
Sam Houston dropped the first set, but battled back to outlast VCU in the second to tie it up before the Rams claimed each of the final two.
Vaughn led all players with 14 kills on 32 swings, while White had 13 on 31 swings with a dozen digs for a double-double of her own. Cunningham had 11 and Madison Wallace added eight scores and a dozen digs as well.
Sam Houston will now travel east to Chattanooga, Tenn., to take part in the Chattanooga Classic. They will open up the event on Friday against Chattanooga, before battling both Murray State and ULM on Saturday.
Sam Houston did not get off to the start it wanted in the opening set, misfiring on 11 swings in the frame while VCU hit .375 on their way to a 25-13 win. Taylor Cunningham got the majority of the Bearkat swings, connecting on half of her 12 attacks, but the Kats only added four more scores from the rest of the roster. The Rams won the race to double digits and led by as much as five at 13-8 after a stretch that saw them score six out of eight points. That lead continued to grow before the Rams eventually finished off the set with each of the final four points of the frame.
The second set did not start off well at all for the Kats as VCU opened up a 7-2 lead before the Kats called a timeout. But from there, Sam Houston took off, scoring 11 of the next 13 points to take a 13-9 lead. VCU managed to claw back and evened things up twice at both 20-20 and 23-23 and eventually had a set-point try at 24-23. But they could not convert and the Kats took advantage as Vaughn and White each had kills on the final two points to square the match. Both of the Bearkat outsides had five kills apiece in the set as Sam Houston upped its attack percentage to .216 after swinging at just -.029 in the opening set.
Set 3 started off similar to the previous frame with the Rams rushing out to a 7-2 lead, but this time the Bearkats could not come all the way back as VCU took a 2-1 lead in the match. After Sam scored the first point of the set, VCU answered with the next six and led by as much as seven at 18-11. Sam Houston tried to get back in it behind four kills from White and 2.5 team blocks, but did not have the answer in hitting just .128 in the set. A Ram ballhandling error and White’s fourth kill of the set narrowed the VCU advantage to just 20-17, but that would be as close as the Kats would get the remainder of the way.
Vaughn added six more kills on 10 swings in the fourth set and the Kats, but the Rams were near perfect on the offensive side. They connected on 16 of 30 attacks with just one error in the set despite the Kats hitting .267, their highest single-set percentage of the match. The Rams took the lead at 3-2 and never gave it back, leading 11-6 and by as much as seven later in the set.