Tuesday, Oct. 31 • 6:30 p.m. • Huntsville • Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum
Sam Houston State (13-11, 9-2 SLC) vs Abilene Christian (9-14, 5-6 SLC)
Live Stats • ESPN3 • @BearkatsVB on Twitter
HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State Bearkat volleyball team saw its run at a perfect Southland Conference record come to an end last week, but with two weeks left in the season Coach Brenda Gray’s squad is still squarely in the hunt for a conference title.
The Kats sit in third place, just 1.5 games behind first-place Stephen F. Austin, who will be one of three teams to come into Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum this week as Sam Houston closes out its home slate. The week will kick off on Tuesday against Abilene Christian and continue on Thursday against Lamar before the showdown with SFA on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Both Tuesday and Thursday’s matches will be streamed on ESPN3 and can be watched online or on the WatchESPN app with Matt Pedersen on the call on Tuesday and Sam Leavitt calling Thursday’s match.
Meanwhile, Thursday's match is the third Be The Growl game, presented by Greek Life. Students that attend designated Be The Growl games will be entered to win three grand prizes, courtesy of SHSU Online. Those prizes include a PlayStation 4 Pro, Apple Watch Series 2 adn Beats wireless earphones.
Sam Houston entered last week all alone atop the SLC standings with a 9-0 record, but fell twice in four sets at Northwestern State and Central Arkansas. This week will include Senior Night on Thursday when the Bearkats honor its two-member senior class of Brooke White and Jordyn Vaughn prior to its game against Lamar.
Each player has already surpassed the 1,000-kill marks for their careers, but White is also nearing 1,000 digs as well. Currently she has 942 digs to go with her 1,222 career kills and with 58 more digs she would become just the 14th player in Bearkat history to surpass the 1,000 mark in both categories.
The Wildcats will present a tough challenge having won three of their last four matches with the lone loss coming at Central Arkansas on Thursday. It also includes a 3-1 win at Northwestern State on Saturday, just two days after the Demons upset the Bearkats. Sam Houston dropped ACU in four sets in Abilene in both team’s conference opener on Sept. 23 and had dropped three straight before its recent surge that also includes a win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Meanwhile, Lamar has not fared as well since getting started in league play with just two wins against Southeastern Louisiana serving as their lone victories in the SLC. The latest victory came in five sets over the Lions to snap a five-match losing skid. Thursday will serve as the only time the Kats and Cardinals meet this season.
The spotlight match of the weekend will come on Saturday when the Bearkats host the now first-place Ladyjacks in a tilt which should go a long way towards deciding who ultimately wears the league crown at season’s end. SFA enters the week riding a nine-match win streak since a 3-0 loss at Houston Baptist on Sept. 30, the longest active win streak in the SLC. The match will conclude a tough three-match week for SFA too with the Ladyjacks also playing Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and at ACU prior to their trip to Huntsville.
INSIDE THE SERIES
vs Abilene Christian
The Bearkats picked up a 3-1 win over the Wildcats earlier this season to give them a 3-2 edge in five matches played since ACU joined the Southland Conference for the 2013 season. Sam Houston owns a 5-2 record overall against ACU in a series that dates back to the days when each team was a part of the Division II ranks. The Wildcats had won each of the last two matches in the series in five sets before Sam’s win earlier this season.
Sam Houston owns a 47-25 lead in the all-time series with the Cardinals, including 12 of the last 15. Last season the Kats picked up a 3-1 win in Beaumont in the team’s lone meeting of the year. The Kats have won seven in a row in Huntsville over the Cardinals, last falling on their home court in to LU in 2007.
vs Stephen F. Austin
SFA owns a 34-20 in the Piney Woods rivalry, but it was Sam Houston who got the last laugh twice in 2016. The Kats dropped a 3-0 decision in Nacogdoches earlier in the year before rebounding for a 3-1 win in Huntsville a month later and a dominating sweep of the Ladyjacks in the semifinals of the SLC Tournament.