NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks satisfied a raucous crowd at Shelton Gym with a 3-2 (25-20, 15-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-6) win over Sam Houston State on Tuesday night.
Jill Ivy led SFA (11-3, 2-0 SLC) with 18 kills as the Ladyjacks joined Nicholls as the only team in the Southland Conference without a loss after the first week of play. The win was made even more gratifying considering the Ladyjacks had dropped five of their last six matches against the Bearkats (5-9, 1-2 SLC) since 2008.
SFA had to summon its best play at the end of the match, hitting .278 in the race to 15, breaking all seven of Sam Houston's service attempts in the final set.
Paige Holland continued her standout play, doling out 47 assists and adding a trio of kills, while Tori Bates and Katzy Randall each reached double-figure kills, combining for 23 between the pair of outside hitters. SFA also won the battle at the net, holding the ‘Kats to just .118 hitting and outblocking SHSU 11-8 behind six blocks from Sabrina Burns. Randall rounded out a double-double with 12 digs, while Madison Hanlan led all players with 22.
Devene Wells-Gibson led the Bearkats with 22 kills and 10 assists.
SFA snapped a 19-19 tie in the first set with a 6-1 run to take an early 1-0 lead, hitting .207 and forcing eight Bearkat attack errors. It got off to a quick start in the second frame too, jumping out 6-3 before SHSU responded with a 14-2 run that put them in position to knot the match at 1-1 after they hit .382 in the set.
The Ladyjacks then took control of the match again with a narrow win in the third set, a set that was tied at 20-20 before kills from Bates and Ivy set things up for Ivy who walked a kill down the net to put SFA in front 2-1. But SFA could not close out the ‘Kats in the fourth, dropping the set despite SHSU hitting just .048 to force a deciding fifth set.
Needing a fast start in the fifth set, SFA got just that, scoring each of the first three points of the set and eventually swelling the lead to 8-3 at the halfway point on a bad set from SHSU's Kaylee Hawkins. Kills from Burns and Holland followed and eventually set the stage for ivy, who hammered home her final kill of the night go give the Ladyjacks the victory.
Things get no easier for SFA the rest of the week, traveling to Lake Charles, La., on Thursday for a date with McNeese State before taking on Lamar on Saturday in Beaumont.