Nov. 10, 2011
BEAUMONT - While the statistics were virtually identical at the end of the night, Sam Houston State had the only one that mattered in its favor Thursday at McDonald Gym as the Bearkats picked up a 3-1 (25-20, 26-24, 14-25, 25-20) Southland Conference volleyball victory over Lamar.
With third place in the conference race on the line, and only one regular season match remaining before next week's conference tournament, the Bearkats seized control of the position. Lamar fell to 10-20 on the year and 8-7 in SLC play, while the Bearkats improved to 16-12 overall and 10-5 in league games.
The Lady Cardinals will close out the 2011 regular season at home on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. as Stephen F. Austin visits McDonald Gym. It will also be the final home match for senior Bailey Smith.
After dropping the first two sets 25-20 and 26-24, Lamar finally began to find its rhythm in the third set. The Lady Cardinals blasted Sam Houston State, finishing with 12 kills in the set and holding the Bearkats to a paltry .026 attack percentage as they won 25-14.
It looked as though LU would even the match at two sets apiece when Megan McStravick's fourth service ace of the night put the Lady Cards ahead 18-15 in the fourth set. However, Carli Kolbe pounded down one of her match-high 18 kills to cap a 6-1 SHSU run that put the visitors ahead 21-19.
Lamar would score just one more point on the night, a kill by middle blocker Wendy Krell, as the Bearkats closed the match with a 25-20 victory.
"We took some great swings, but they just made some miraculous plays," said LU head coach Justin Gibert. "I thought the difference in the game was the miraculous defensive plays they made. I think they just denied a few kills for us that would normally be kills, and we didn't do likewise."
Sam Houston finished with a slight advantage in kills, 54-51, and both teams registered 72 digs. The total blocks were virtually even at 9-8 in favor of the Bearkats, but Lamar had a small 7-5 advantage in service aces. The one difference was in attack percentage, and Gibert saw that as a key.
"Their hitting percentage made the difference," said Gibert. "They hit .233 and we hit .196, and that was really the difference. The last game, they held us to .143 and that hurt us down the stretch."
Krell had a huge offensive night for Lamar, putting away 15 kills and committing just one attack error as she hit a match-high .519. The 6-foot-2 junior has now registered at least 10 kills in four straight matches.
Outside hitter Cynthia McCollum was also solid for Lamar as she finished with a double-double of 12 kills and 13 digs. Sierra Whittaker chipped in with 10 kills, and Christina Hobbs added nine. Hobbs also led all players with seven total blocks.
Setter Alex Morford handed out 45 assists for LU, adding 14 digs on the night. Freshman libero Megan Schwartz led all players with a career-high 20 digs.
In addition to her 18 kills, Kolbe added nine digs and three total blocks for SHSU. Kaylee Hawkins posted 13 kills and 18 digs, and Kim Black finished with 11 kills. Libero Jamie Haas finished with a team-high 19 digs.