NATCHITOCHES, La. – Sam Houston got 21 kills from Jordyn Vaughn, but the Northwestern State Demons rallied with wins in the final three sets to take a 3-1 (15-25, 25-22, 25-20, 32-30) win over the Bearkats on Thursday night at Prather Coliseum.
The loss brings to an end the Kats (13-10, 9-1 SLC) perfect start in Southland Conference play and snaps a 10-match win streak overall. The loss, along with a win by Stephen F. Austin over New Orleans drops the Kats a half game back of SFA of first place in the league standings. It also snapped a five-game win streak over the past two years for the Kats over the Demons (13-13, 8-3 SLC).
Vaughn did her damage on 67 swings and finished with a double-double with 15 kills. She was one of three Kats with double-doubles as Jaclyn Ward joined her with 43 assists and 13 digs, and Brooke White added 11 kills and 20 digs. Taylor Cunningham put up 10 kills with having a and on six of Sam Houston’s 11 blocks for the night. Courtney Littlefield also finished with five blocks.
Addison Miller finished with 29 digs at the libero spot, a career high and the most by a Bearkat since Claire Kilpatrick had 30 against Lamar in 2014. In all, five Kats finished with at least a dozen digs with Madison Wallace also adding 12 to go with three kills and three blocks.
The Kats had no trouble jumping out to a 1-0 lead, doing so behind seven kills from Vaughn and three blocks from Littlefield in holding Northwestern State to -.085 hitting in a dominating 25-15 win in the opening frame. Vaughn had three kills in a four-point stretch to give the Kats an early 10-3 lead and the set was never in doubt with Sam Houston scoring four of the final six points of the set and never leading by less than four after stretching out the lead.
The Demons flipped the script in the second set, but had to do so in comeback fashion. A score from Littlefield gave the Kats a 12-7 lead early on in the set and prompted a Demon timeout, but following the break the Demons went on a run, scoring eight of the next nine points and never looked back. Vaughn had four more kills in the set, and Cunningham three, but Sam Houston hit just .154 for the set. They pulled back even at 20-20 on a kill from Ward, but Northwestern State was able to tally five of the final seven points to even up the match.
Sam Houston turned up the offense in Set 3, hitting .263, but still fell victim to a late Demon run as Northwestern State took a 2-1 lead. The Demons hit .282 themselves with just three misfires in the set, but Sam Houston still found itself down just 21-20 late in the set when Ward found Vaughn for a score. But the Demons answered with two scores and then added two more after a timeout to move just one set away from the win.
The Kats looked to be in position to force a fifth set, up by two as late as the 17-15 point before the Demons scored three straight to go up 18-17. Vaughn finished with five scores in the set to lead the Kats, but the Demons were able to turn to Reagan Rogers for 12 of her team-best 21 kills in the set. A block from Vaugn and Cunningham had the Kats just two points away from forcing the fifth with a 23-21 lead, but Northwestern State answered back with two of their own to tie it up. Still, the Kats had consecutive set-point tries but fell victim to service errors each time to keep the set going. Sam Houston had three more set-point tries, but eventually it was Rogers tying it up at 30-30 with her final kill of the night before consecutive scores from Madeline Drake closed it out.
The Kats will now turn their attention to Central Arkansas when they take on the Sugar Bears on Saturday at noon in Conway.