TULSA, OK -- Kendall Cleveland posted a career high 22 kills to power Sam Houston from a two sets to one deficit for a five-set win over Oral Roberts in a two-and-half hour marathon volleyball match Thursday night.
The victory set the stage for a showdown battle with Southland leader Central Arkansas Saturday afternoon in Conway. UCA leads the league with an 11-2 conference record. Sam Houston’s 10-match winning streak give the Kats a 10-2 league mark. SHSU is now 15-9 for the season.
Deveney Wells-Gibson and Hailey Neisler added 19 and nine kills, respectively for the Kats. Setter Tayler Gray assisted on 49 kills and led the Kat defense with 26 digs.
In a pattern that became the norm throughout the match, Oral Roberts jumped out to an early lead in the first set. Down 11-6, the Kats fought back to take a 17-15 lead on a kill by Cleveland. The Golden Eagles took control, winning 10 of the next 13 points for a one set lead.
With Sam Houston down 9-4 in the second set, Cleveland rallied the Kats again with two kills to put SHSU up 14-13. The Bearkats led the rest of the way to event that match at a set apiece.
ORU built another 9-4 lead in the third frame but again Sam Houston caught up, taking a 16-14 lead on a kill by Kaylee Hawkins. The Golden Eagles won 11 of the next 15 points to go up two sets to one.
Sam Houston never trailed in the fourth set as the Kats evened the match at two sets all. Another Cleveland kill gave SHSU a 6-1 start in the frame.
Again in the final set, ORU led early, going up 9-6. But the Kats roared back. Each team had three match points before Cleveland tied the set 19-19 then set up SHSU’s fourth match point with a service ace. Kaylee Hawkins put away the final kill to clinch the victory.