ABILENE – The Sam Houston State Bearkats kicked off Southland Conference play with a bang on Saturday afternoon, taking the final three sets to knock off Abilene Christian, 3-1 (18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-18) at Moody Coliseum.
The Kats (4-9, 1-0 SLC) got a big day from its big three of Taylor Cunningham, Brooke White and Jordyn Vaughn as the trio combined for 46 of the team’s 55 kills. Cunningham turned in her best match of the season with a match-high 17 kills, hitting .467 with just three errors on 30 swings while adding four blocks and six digs.
White added 15 scores and six digs, while Vaughn had nine of her 14 kills in the final two sets to push the Kats to a win in its league opener. Sam Houston hit just .086 in dropping the opening set, but then put it together, hitting .225 the rest of the way. Setter Jaclyn White turned in a double-double with 42 assists and 13 digs, while Addison Miller tied her season high with 19 digs.
Sam Houston returns to Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum on Tuesday to continue Southland play against Nicholls, opening up a 3-match homestand that also includes clashes with New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana.
Cunningham had four kills in the opening set, but nine attack errors and two service errors were too much to overcome. ACU (4-9, 0-1 SLC) had just 11 kills in the set, but misfired just three times and used a run midway through the set to open up a 20-13 lead that they would not give back.
The second set was a different story as Sam amped up the defense with five blocks and held ACU to .000 hitting to square things up. Cunningham had five kills in the set on eight error-free swings, while White and Vaughn had three each. The Wildcats went up 4-1 early, but the tide quickly turned on an ACU attack error that sparked an 11-1 Bearkat run that ran the lead to 12-5. A block by Madison Wallace and Courtney Littlefield swelled the lead to its peak at 19-10 before the Kats cruised into the halftime break tied at 1-1.
White became the go-to hand in the third set with seven of Sam Houston’s 17 kills in the frame. Her second kill of the set broke an early 7-7 tie and helped Sam start a run that upped the lead to 14-9 after a kill from Wallace. ACU would get back within one at 17-16, but Sam answered with five straight points to quell the rally as they took a 2-1 lead behind .238 hitting.
The Kats finished things off in Set 4, putting together its most efficient set of the day with .263 hitting behind four scores each from Vaughn and Cunningham. Wallace had a pair of aces in a four-point run early in the set that gave them the lead for good. Sam never led by less than two the rest of the way and scored six of the final eight points to close it out.