Matches 1-3 • Sam Houston State Tournament
Friday, August 24 • 6:30 p.m. • Huntsville • Johnson Coliseum
Sam Houston State (0-0, 0-0 SLC) vs Drake (0-0, 0-0 MVC)
Live Stats • Live Stream • @BearkatsVB on Twitter
HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State volleyball team will kick off the 2018 season this weekend when it hosts a two-day tournament at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
The Bearkats will be joined by Drake, Bethune-Cookman and Texas Southern for the round-robin weekend event. It will be the first time the Kats have opened up the season with a home tournament since the 2015 season.
Coach Brenda Gray’s team returns a dozen players from last season and will kick off the weekend on Friday night when it battles Drake, a team picked fourth in the preseason poll for the Missouri Valley. They will then turn around and take on both Texas Southern and Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.
Fans can follow along all weekend by following @BearkatsVB on Twitter, via live stats or by watching on the Bearkat Sports Network account on YouTube.
The weekend will be the final chance for fans to catch the Kats on their home court as they will be on the road for each of the following three weekends to complete non-conference play. They will next be on the Johnson Coliseum floor on Sept. 20 when they open up Southland Conference play against McNeese.
With first team preseason all-Southland Conference selections Taylor Cunningham and Jaclyn Ward back for their senior seasons, along with Madison Wallace and Amanda Gooch returning from injury, Gray boasts a 2018 roster with plenty of offensive experience that should bode well for this year.
Cunningham comes into 2018 needing just 167 kills to reach 1,000 career and already ranked 13th all-time at Sam Houston with 283 total blocks for her career. Meanwhile, Ward finished second in the SLC in assists per set in league-only matches a year ago in her first season as the Kats’ primary setter.
The Bulldogs return all but one starter from a 2017 team that went 23-10 overall and qualified for the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament for the first time since 2010, including first team all-MVC outside hitter Cathryn Cheek who averaged 3.28 kills per set a year ago. Drake also brings back libero Kylee Macke who avearged 5.05 digs per set as a true freshman last season, helping the Bulldogs finish third in the MVC with 20.5 digs per set as a team.
Scouting Texas Southern
The Tigers fell in the SWAC Tournament championship match for the second straight season a year ago, but enter 2018 with one of the SWAC’s strongest front lines, highlihgted SWAC preseason player of the year Kirby Anderson. A senior middle blocker, she hit .335 with 227 total kills as a junior, and also totaled 130 blocks in 2017.
Coach Brittany Williams’ Wildcats were voted to finish first in the MEAC’s Southern Division, receiving 14 of a possible 24 first-place votes entering this year. They sport a pair of preseason all-league choices in outside hitter Jordan Jefferson and middle blocker Faith Landreneaux, both Texas natives. BCU went 12-14 overall, but 9-1 in the MEAC a year ago before falling in the first round of the MEAC Touranment to Hampton.