Thursday, Oct. 26 • 6:30 p.m. • Natchitoches, La. • Prather Coliseum
Sam Houston State (13-9, 9-0 SLC) at Northwestern State (12-13, 7-3 SLC)
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HUNTSVILLE – With 10 consecutive wins under its belt, the Sam Houston State volleyball team can punch its ticket to the Southland Conference Tournament this week when it hits the road for a tough road swing at Northwestern State and Central Arkansas.
The Bearkats still own the top spot in the Southland Conference standings and remain as the lone unbeaten team in the league after wins last week at home at UIW and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but will face arguably its toughest road tests of the SLC season this weekend with the Demons right behind them in the standings with a combined record of 15-5.
Coach Brenda Gray’s team can secure its 11th consecutive berth in the Southland Conference Tournament with a win on Thursday at Northwestern State, a victory that would put them at 10-0 in conference play for the first time in school history.
Along the way the Bearkats have dominated the league’s weekly honors, sweeping offensive and defensive player of the week honors each of the last two weeks and winning five of the last six nods over the past three weeks. Most recently it was setter Jaclyn Ward and Brooke White claiming the awards, with Ward getting offensive player of the week and White defensive player of the week following the two wins last week against the Cardinals and Islanders. White got hers on the heels of winning offensive player of the week, making her the first SLC player since SFA’s Jacque Allen in 2015 to win both offensive and defensive player of the week in the same season.
White, along with fellow senior outside hitter Jordyn Vaughn continue to shine as the league’s top hitting duo. Vaughn enters the week tied with HBU’s Bailey Banks for tops in the league with 3.95 kills per set while White is one spot back with 3.62 per set. Meanwhile, no setter has dished out more assists against SLC competition than Ward’s 11.46 per set.
The Demons dropped two of their first three matches in the SLC, but have since won six of their last seven to vault into the upper echelon of the league standings at 7-3. They are led by Reagan Rogers and her 3.44 kills per set while teammates Madeline Drake, Channing Burleson and Kathryn Wristen lead the team in blocks, digs and assists.
In Conway the Bearkats will face a Sugar Bear squad that has won eight of its last nine matches after a league-opening loss to Stephen F. Austin, the lone loss in that stretch coming in five sets at McNeese. They are 9-1 at the Prince Center this season.
Samantha Anderson and Megan Nash each rank among the top 10 in the SLC in attack percentage, while the Sugar Bears sport three of the league’s top 10 in individual kills and lead the league with 13.94 kills per set as a team.
INSIDE THE SERIES
vs Northwestern State
The Kats are 47-6 all-time against the Demons after taking down Northwestern State three times in 2016, including the first round of the SLC Tournament in Conway. Sam Houston has swept the season series from the Demons each of the last two seasons.
vs Central Arkansas
Central Arkansas owns a 9-6 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 teams split the last three season series, with the teams each winning on the road in 2014 and 2015 before each team won on its own home court in 2016.