From SFA Athletics
Although they were able to put a scare into the SFA volleyball team by claiming the first set of the night, Sam Houston State was ultimately the one who got tricked into thinking it could contend with one of the best teams in the nation as the Ladyjacks treated their rowdy bunch of costumed compatriots inside Shelton Gym to yet another victory.
Senior outside hitter Corin Evans hammered home a career-high 20 of the Ladyjacks' 53 kills, completed a double-double with 16 assists and fellow final-year player Danae Daron took great pleasure in stuffing the Bearkats' attack time and time again to finish with a match-high nine blocks and the Ladyjacks maintained their two-match lead for the top spot in the Southland standings with a 3-1 victory on Halloween night.
SET ONE | Sam Houston State 27, rv SFA 25• Hoping to hand the Ladyjacks their first league loss in nearly two years, Sam Houston State opened up a 13-8 lead in the early stages of the first set. That run was aided by five unforced SFA errors. • Evans and senior Ann Hollas turned the tables on their Piney Woods rivals after that, leading a 7-1 Ladyjack surge that put the home team in front 15-14. Evans pounded down four terminations through that surge while Hollas added a kill and a solo stuff of her own. • Hoping to extend their lead from there, SFA instead watched as the visitors closed the set on an 11-2 run to take the frame. Five different Bearkats turned in kills during the run, none more than Ashley Lewis who contributed a trio of them to Sam Houston State's set-clinching run. • The Bearkats hit .196 in the set and finished with 17 kills compared to SFA's eight. The Ladyjacks, meanwhile, attacked at a clip of just .089 through the set.
SET TWO | rv SFA 26, Sam Houston State 24• Six ties through the first 14 points of the set set the tone of the second frame as a back-and-forth affair until SFA's defense allowed it to get some distance between itself and the Bearkats. • A pair of combo blocks from Daron and Xariah Williams coupled with a kill by Shelby Sheets powered a 5-1 SFA run that put the hosts ahead 12-8. • SFA's lead remained at five points when Ariana Pagan ended a stretch of three straight SFA points with a kill that made matters 20-15. That was before Sam Houston State reeled off five consecutive points to tie the match.• Those five scores were part of a larger 9-3 run by the Bearkats that put SFA at a 24-23 disadvantage. Able to stave off two set points, SFA tied things at 24 and once again at 25 after a well-timed dump kill from Margaret Dean. • Dean's hit to the corner started a set-ending 3-0 run in which Hollas and Evans generated kills to help SFA even the score. • Sixteen of SFA's kills came in the second set as the hosts hit .286 while holding Sam Houston State to a mark of .133.
SET THREE | rv SFA 25, Sam Houston State 17• Again coming out strong, the Bearkats used a pair of kills courtesy of Brianne Chausse and a service ace off the hands of Morgan Janda to take a 6-5 lead early in the third. • Just like what had happened in the second, however, SFA went on a bit of a run to regain control. A trio of Sam Houston State attack errors as well as kills from Daron, Sheretta Hill and Hollas helped SFA go on a 7-2 run to take a 12-8 lead. • Though SFA never trailed the rest of the set, the Bearkats tied things up at 13 and again at 14 before the Ladyjacks finally put their Piney Woods rivals away. • Evans generated two kills and a service ace while Taya Mitchell came up with two big-time terminations of her own during the Ladyjacks' 11-3 run to close out the set.
SET FOUR | rv SFA 26, Sam Houston State 24• A 5-2 run culminating with a kill by Pagan handed SFA what seemed to be a comfortable 17-12 lead, but the Bearkats made a bid for a fifth set. • Five unforced SFA attack errors and a pair of solo blocks by Kaira Hunnicutt helped Sam Houston State go on a 10-0 run to take a 22-17 lead. After that, though, the Ladyjacks regrouped to finish off the Bearkats. • Four Ladyjacks came up with kills - including Evans whose 19th of the night staved off a set point try by Sam Houston State and tied things up at 24. After that, Bailey Mulder came through with a well-timed service ace before Evans unleashed one more cross-court rocket to finish things.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE• Hollas wrapped up a splendid all-around performance with a career-high 25 digs and completed a double-double effort with 22 assists. The Longview, Texas, product also added five blocks. • Though she hit only .136 and generated just five terminations, Daron kept the Bearkats at bay with her front-row defense. Her nine blocks were a season high and helped SFA own a 12.5-7 edge in rejections. • Dean delivered a double-double of her own with 18 assists and 11 digs while Pagan (15) and Maddie Miller (18) each finished with double-digit scoops as well. • Lewis tied Evans for match-high honors with 20 terminations while Rogers contributed 14 to the Bearkats in the loss. Sam Houston State libero Addison Miller put forth one of the best defensive matches this season by racking up a match and career-high 40 digs. • Defense trumped offense as neither team hit over .180. SFA hit exactly that while holding Sam Houston State to an attack percentage of .128.• The win was the Ladyjacks' 16th in a row, extending the nation's fourth-longest active winning streak. Additionally, the win was SFA's 28th in a row in regular season Southland Conference matches dating back to the 2017 season. • Thanks to their four-set victory, SFA has now won three in a row against Sam Houston State. Two of those wins have come in the Ladyjacks' 20-match home court winning streak - the second-longest home court unbeaten run in the nation.