From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - It was nothing short of a war inside Shelton Gym Thursday night as the Southland Conference’s top two squads got together but at the end of the night, the SFA volleyball team used its superior depth - and showed off its impressive firepower - to stay perfect in league play while extending the nation’s longest active winning streak to 23 matches.
Haley Coleman, Danae Daron and Peyton Redmond each pounded down 12 kills, SFA closed the books on Piney Woods rival Sam Houston State's 10-match winning streak and the Ladyjacks opened up a two-game lead for the top spot in the Southland Conference standings with a wild 3-1 victory over the Bearkats Thursday night inside Shelton Gym.
With the win, the Ladyjacks are assured no worse than a top-three seed for the upcoming Southland Conference Tournament.
SET ONE | SFA 25, Sam Houston State 16• At no point through the first set did the Ladyjacks have any trouble with the Bearkats' floor defense - or Sam Houston State's overall defensive effort.• Coming into the match armed with the nation's sixth-best opponent hitting percentage, Sam Houston State was at a loss for answers against a potent Ladyjack attack that hit .500 in the opening frame. • Senior Makenzee Hanna slammed down three kills while sophmore Anyia Williams added two more as well as a block assist during SFA's 8-3 run to start the match.• The Bearkats made use of a 4-1 run to cut the Ladyjacks' lead to 11-9 before Hanna and Redmond punched down kills through a 5-0 scoring spree that pushed SFA's lead to 16-9 and forced Sam Houston State to call time.• Two kills apiece from Daron and Anyia Williams in the Ladyjacks' 7-2 run to conclude the frame helped the home team make short work of their orange-loving adversaries. • SFA amassed 18 of its 60 terminations in the frame and held Sam Houston State to an attack percentage of just .226.
SET TWO | SFA 25, Sam Houston State 14• Refusing to let the Bearkats' offense start clicking, SFA limited Sam Houston State to an attack percentage of .091 in the second frame to take a 2-0 lead.• SFA never fell behind in the set and turned a four-point edge into a nine-point advantage by receiving two terminations each from Daron and Ann Hollas to go ahead 17-8. • Redmond added three more kills while freshman libero Sabrina Monaco chipped in one of SFA's five service aces in the match during the home team's 8-4 surge to close the frame. • The Ladyjacks' attack cooled off slightly as SFA hit just .364 but a trio of blocks helped the home team continue to clamp down on the Bearkats' offensive attack.
SET THREE | Sam Houston State 28, SFA 26• Wanting to dispatch their rivals from Huntsville as quickly as possible, SFA raced out to a 6-2 lead in the third before the Bearkats stepped up and showed why they are one of the Southland's best.• Jaclyn Ward started a 5-0 Sam Houston State run with a dump kill, but the Ladyjacks countered with a 5-0 surge of their own culminating with a mighty rejection from Hollas and Anyia Williams to make matters 11-7. • Trailing 16-12, Sam Houston State went to its most powerful weapon - senior middle blocker Taylor Cunningham - to make sure the match would not end in three sets. Cunningham mashed down three kills and Ashley Lewis added a service ace during a 6-0 Bearkat scoring spree that put SFA at an 18-16 disadvantage. • Making her only appearance of the match, junior Xariah Williams keyed a 4-0 response for SFA with two kills while Anyia Williams added one. • The Bearkats answered with a 5-2 run to go ahead 23-22, but an attack error and another kill one from Coleman - a terminations that concluded a rally that lasted over 90 seconds - tied things and brought the raucous Shelton Gym crowd to life. • Sam Houston State staved off two match point tries by SFA and broke a 26-all deadlock with back-to-back points - the last of which was a combo block from Cunningham and Caroline Sheaff - to take the third.
SET FOUR | SFA 25, Sam Houston State 21• Just because SFA didn't trail once in the last set did not mean it was any less dramatic than the no-holds-barred third frame. • Hollas started SFA's 3-1 run to begin the final frame with a service ace but the Bearkats managed to remain within one point though most of the early stages of the set.• Following a combo block from Cunningham and Ward that cut SFA's lead to 11-10, Daron conjured up a massive solo rejection to start a 3-0 run that gave the home team the cushion they so desperately needed.• SFA upped its lead to 19-12 later on in the set with a 5-0 run featuring kills from Coleman and Anyia Williams.• Still the Bearkats wouldn't go away as a 4-0 run cut SFA's lead to 21-18. Out of the Ladyjacks' timeout, SFA posted back-to-back blocks that kick-started a 3-0 run to make matters 24-18.• Sam Houston State fended off three match point tries by SFA before Daron finally ended things by killing an overpass.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE• A dominating all-around effort for Daron also included a match-best seven rejections - three of which were of the solo variety. Those three solo blocks represented a career-high for Daron who had little trouble navigating the Bearkats' block as the junior hit a match-best .647. • Anyia Williams hit .500, giving the Ladyjacks a potent one-two punch alongside Daron. Anyia Williams finished the night by putting in nine terminations to go along with four block assists and a dig. • While Hollas and McKenzie Brewer - as usual - split time dishing out assists, the former put forth arguably the best floor defense effort by any Ladyjack this season. Hollas scooped up a match and career-high 23 digs and completed her team-best 12th double-double with 23 assists. • Hollas' 23 digs represent the most by an SFA player in a match this season and were the most by any Ladyjack since Lexus Cain amassed 21 in a five-set match against Abilene Christian in the 2017 Southland Conference Tournament. • Brewer also finished with 20 assists and one of the Ladyjacks' service aces. • Coleman also finished with a double-double, scooping up 12 digs to go along with her 12 terminations. The senior also added a pair of service aces and reached the 1,000 point plateau for her career in the Ladyjacks' victory. • Stopping Sam Houston State's Taylor Cunningham - one of the favorites for Southland Conference Player of the Year - has proven to be impossible for just about every team but the Ladyjacks did limit the senior's damage. Cummingham struck for a match-high 14 kills and added 11 digs for another double-double but hit only .188.• Breanne Chausse turned in 10 more kills for the Bearkats who have not defeated SFA inside Shelton Gym since Oct. 24, 2013. • The Bearkats hit just .126 as a unit and it has now been 366 days since a Southland Conference team hit .200 or better against SFA. • SFA's win was its 14th-straight inside Shelton Gym dating back to Nov. 11, 2017.