BEAUMONT – Sam Houston State's volleyball team entered Saturday's encounter with Lamar in first place and undefeated in Southland play, but it almost didn't leave that way as the Lady Cardinals fell in a 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-27, 22-25) heartbreaker to the Bearkats on Saturday afternoon at McDonald Gym.
The Lady Cards (4-14, 2-4 SLC) showed off a balanced offense on the day as four different players racked up at least 10 kills, led by Sara Landis' 13. Cortney Moore was second on the team with 12, and both Chelsea Grant and Sierra Whittaker added 10. Alexa Johnson quarterbacked the offense, dishing out 43 assists and helping LU out-hit the visitors from Huntsville .203 to .195.
Grant was a force defensively as well, picking up nine blocks, and Johnson led the team in digs with 15. Molly Duge and Erika Rojas added 14 and 10, respectively.
The Red and White were looking for a little revenge early after getting swept by SHSU (9-6, 6-0 SLC) in Huntsville earlier this season, and they got a taste of it thanks in large part to the play of Grant and Whittaker in the opening set. The duo combined to hit .667 with eight kills as LU picked up a 25-19 victory. The frame featured nine ties, but LU never trailed, taking control at 19-15 after a Grant kill and a pair of Deveney Wells-Gibson attack errors.
Wells-Gibson made helped make up for it a set later, holding serve for six straight points to turn a 15-15 tie into a 21-15 advantage for the Bearkats, who went on to win 25-21 to send the match into the break all even at 1-1.
The third set looked like it was going to get out of hand early as SHSU took a commanding 13-4 lead, but little-by-little, the Lady Cards fought back. This time, the tandem of Moore and Landis played the roles of heroes, accounting for nine of the team's 15 kills.
Moore caught fire late in the frame, bookending a Duge service ace with a pair of kills to cut the deficit to one at 23-22. A Bearkat attack error and Schwartz kill set up an improbable set point, but Duge's serve went into the net to tie it up again at 24-24. Moore handed a second opportunity to LU with another kill, but a Schwartz service error and two SHSU kills ended the threat.
The fourth set was equally as tight, with Lamar leading for the majority of the frame, but a pair of Lady Card attack errors and a Wells-Gibson kill surrendered a lead to SHSU for the first time at 21-20. The two sides would swap errors over the next three points, and Wells-Gibson picked up two kills over the last three points to hand the Bearkats their sixth conference win in as many matches.
Lamar will return to action on Thursday at Incarnate Word.