It took two hours and 15 minutes, but the University of Central Arkansas volleyball team hung on to defend two streaks by downing Sam Houston State in five games Thursday night.
With the Sugar Bears’ (10-6, 2-0 Southland) 26-28, 25-17, 22-25, 25-23, 15-10 victory over the Bearkats (6-10, 0-1), UCA moves its conference winning streak to 24 and their Prince Center winning streak to 20, both dating back to 2008.
The first set was tied eight times, including at 26-26. A kill by Carli Kolbe and a Sugar Bear error gave the Bearkats the opening game. UCA bounced back by hitting .415 in the second frame, while SHSU struggled by hitting .067, leading to the 25-17 tally in favor of the Sugar Bears.
Central Arkansas freshman outside hitter Karlie Giesler powered UCA to a fourth set victory by connecting on six kills in seven tries. UCA finished off their first five-game match of the season by hitting .412 and connecting on nine kills. The Sugar Bears never trailed in the final set.
For the match, UCA outhit SHSU .244 to .239 and had a 66-55 kills advantage. The Sugar Bears also led in aces 10-6. The Bearkats won both defensive categories — blocks (12-5) and digs (57-55).
Senior right side hitter Chloe Smith hit .400 and recorded a season-best 22 kills to lead UCA. Giesler ended the match with a season-high 12 kills and hit .435. Junior outside hitter Jessica Hays came up with 18 kills, nine digs and career-high seven service aces. Junior libero Cristin Curl had 17 digs and freshman setter Marrissa Collins had the first double-double of her career with 54 assists and 10 digs.
UCA will put both streaks on the line again on Saturday afternoon when it faces Stephen F. Austin at 2 p.m.