SHSU volleyball and football teams win Southland Conference titles on same day
SHSU football, volleyball win Southland Conference titles on same day
Published: Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 00:11
Sam Houston State University is establishing itself as a powerhouse athletic school in the Southland Conference by clenching two conference titles Saturday.
Both SHSU volleyball and football teams claimed a share with University of Central of Arkansas in the Southland Conference title by defeating conference rivals.
The Bearkat football team easily handled the Northwestern State Demons with a 52-17 victory while the Lady Bearkat volleyball squad triumphed over Lamar University in just three sets (25-16, 25-16, and 25-21). Head football coach Willie Fritz and his squad captured the conference title for the second year in a row, while volleyball coach Brenda Gray and group claimed their first conference title since 1994.
“I want to give credit to every team that came through in all the years that I’ve been here that helped lay the ground work,” Gray said. “I couldn’t be happier for this group. I love this team. The championship is just wonderful for them because they have worked extremely hard.”
Over the past decade, Southland volleyball had been led by Texas State-San Marcos and Stephen F. Austin State University who both have four conference titles each before the Bobcats moved to the WAC Conference at the end of 2011 season. This season the Bearkats clenched their spot at the top by winning 14 of their last 15 games to close the regular season with a 20-10, SLC 15-3 record. Out of the 20 victories, 13 of them were sweeps.
On the gridiron, Fritz has coached the Bearkats up into the top three in FCS rankings.
Last year the Bearkats rolled through their schedule with an 11-0 regular season record and advanced to the NCAA Division I Championship when they fell to North Dakota State 6-17. This year, Fritz and company have battled back with seven consecutive conference wins after starting the season 0-1.
“The thing that was the toughest part was starting off 0-1,” Fritz said. “Everyone knew that we had to win seven FCS games. It wasn’t a secret but our guys did a good job focusing at the task at hand and competing week after week.”
According to receiver Trey Diller, SHSU is ready to finish the season out with a NCAA Championship title.
“We got one goal in our mind to get back to where we were last year finish,” Diller said. “As long as we get a spot in the playoffs I think we’ll handle business from there.”
Gray and her girls will be looking to clench the Southland Finals this weekend as they travel to Conway, Ark. for the Southland Quarterfinals against Nicholls State University at 11 a.m.
SHSU football will wrap up their season in College Station Texas A&M, ranked eighth in BCS standings, Saturday at 2:30 p.m.