Nov. 9, 2011
BEAUMONT - Lamar University will look to establish a season-long four-match winning streak Thursday night at 7 when Sam Houston State visits McDonald Gym for a Southland Conference volleyball contest.
The Lady Cardinals are 10-19 on the year, and after Saturday's 3-1 win over Central Arkansas, are tied for the lead in the SLC East Division with an 8-6 mark. Sam Houston State stands at 15-12 on the year, and its 9-5 conference mark is good enough for third in the West Division.
This will be the only regular season meeting between the two schools who have played 88 previous times. Sam Houston holds a 42-36 advantage in the series, and won last year's only meeting by a 3-0 score in Huntsville. Sam Houston hasn't won in Beaumont since the 2005 season.
In last year's contest, the Bearkats won in straight sets by scores of 25-20, 25-22 and 30-28. Sam Houston finished the match with a 45-31 advantage in kills, limiting the Lady Cardinals to a .057 attack percentage.
Sierra Whittaker and Jayme Bazile each had seven kills to lead Lamar, with Bazile also adding eight total blocks. Bailey Smith had a team-high 12 digs for the Lady Cards. Carlie Kolbe led the Bearkats' effort with 16 kills and 13 digs.
Lamar enters Thursday's match with a team hitting percentage of .198 and averaging 12.30 kills per set to rank fifth in the Southland Conference. Sam Houston is just behind in kills' average at 12.29, while its .165 team attack percentage ranks ninth.
The two teams are also close in service aces per set. Lamar ranks third with 1.56 per set as junior setter Alex Morford is second individually in the league with 0.50. Sam Houston's Kym Loving ranks fifth with 0.35 per set to help the Bearkats average 1.46 as a team.
Whittaker leads Lamar offensively, averaging 3.15 kills per set on a team-best .244 attack percentage. However, fellow outside hitter Cynthia McCollum and middle blocker Wendy Krell are coming off big weeks that helped Lamar win both of its matches.
McCollum averaged 3.88 kills per set over Lamar's last two wins, and hit a strong .306. Krell was just behind in kills per set at 3.50, but hit a robust .488 as Lamar knocked off Northwestern State and Central Arkansas last week.
On the year, McCollum is third on the team with 2.18 kills per set and Krell is fourth at 1.91. McCollum also has 194 digs on the year, while Krell is second on the team in total blocks with 75.
Kolbe leads the Bearkats, and the Southland, in kills per set at 4.02. The senior outside hitter also leads the team with 3.30 digs per set. Senior middle blocker Kim Black is second in kills at 2.16 per set, and ranks fourth in the conference in blocks at 1.08 per set.
Lamar closes the 2011 regular season at home Saturday afternoon at 1 with Stephen F. Austin. The Southland Conference Tournament begins Nov. 17 in Conway, Ark.