FRISCO – Officials from the Southland Conference released the league’s annual preseason all-conference volleyball teams on Tuesday with three Sam Houston State Bearkats being named to the first team.
Senior outside hitters Jordyn Vaughn and Brooke White were each named to the team, along with junior middle blocker Taylor Cunningham. Each were all-conference selections in 2016, thus earning automatic selections to the preseason team with their return in 2017.
The Kats, along with defending league champion Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, were the only two schools to place three players on the 12-member first team.
Last season Vaughn and White combined to form one of the most dynamic outside hitting duos in the SLC, with each being named to the league’s first team. White averaged 3.39 kills per set as a junior, ranking fourth in the league and had five double-doubles in her last six matches on the season. She was a major part of the Kats making a run to the championship match, hitting .312 and averaging 4.45 kills per set in the event on her way to being named to the all-tournament team.
Meanwhile, Vaughn averaged 3.28 kills and 2.41 digs per set on her way to earning all-league honors in 2016 after being selected as a preseason second team choice. She ranked fifth in the Southland Conference in kills per set and had four matches with at least 20 kills and turned in a dozen double-doubles as a junior. Her 21 kills and 12 digs in a win over Tulane helped the Kats claim the AllState Sugar Bowl Tournament, placing her on the all-tournament team and she was named the league’s offensive player of the year in early October after a stellar week against Nicholls and McNeese.
Cunningham was a second team all-league choice as a sophomore, but made her way onto the preseason first team for 2017 after ranking in the top 10 in the SLC with a .279 hitting percentage. For the year, she averaged 2.52 kills and 0.86 blocks per set, but was nearly unstoppable in the SLC Tournament. The Huntsville native reached double figures in kills in all three matches, hitting .474 for the weekend and not making an attack error in either of the first two matches of the event.
The preseason all-conference team is the first prelude to the upcoming 2017 season with the league’s predicted order of finish slated to be released next week. Sam Houston will open up the season on the road on August 25 when they take on Texas State in the opening match of the Texas A&M Invitational.
The Kats will get another look at Texas State on Sept. 5 when the Bobcats travel to Huntsville for Sam Houston’s home opener at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.