Sara Pope tallied her first double-double as a Golden Eagle and Bruna Silva made 23 digs as Oral Roberts University scored an important Southland Conference victory, 3-0, over Sam Houston State on Thursday night. ORU (18-5, 10-3 SLC) swept the three sets by scores of 25-16, 26-24 and 25-19.
The victory maintains ORU's spot in the top-four of the Southland Conference standings and keeps Sheera Sirola's team within shouting distance of 1st place Central Arkansas. The Bears lead the conference with a 13-0 mark at the conclusion of the night, with Sam Houston State at 11-2, Northwestern State at 10-3 and the Golden Eagles at 10-3.
Pope led the ORU offense with 13 kills and matched a career-high with 14 digs. Laura Taylor also finished with a double-double, her fifth of the year, adding 10 digs and 34 assists.
On the defensive end, Silva's 23 digs blazed the trail, and Jovana Poljasevic controlled the net with five total blocks (one solo). The efforts were key to the victory, as ORU held the hosts to a .022 hitting percentage.
Sam Houston State (14-8, 11-2 SLC) was led by Deveney Wells-Gibson's 13 kills, though the reigning SLC Offensive Player of the Year was pressured into 11 attack errors. Breanna Homer notched 15 digs to lead SHSU's back line.
ORU grabbed control of the 1st set by scoring seven straight points early on. A kill by Taylor, one point after she teamed with Poljasevic on a block, gave ORU a 15-8 lead. ORU finished the set off by scoring the final five points, with Taylor and Jessica Pancratz combining for a block on set point as ORU took a 25-16 win.
The Golden Eagles were in serious trouble late in the 2nd set, falling behind by a 23-20 count on a Carling Urben kill. But ORU scored six of the set's final seven points, killing off one set point and winning the set, 26-24, on a Sadie Schaffner kill.
The two sides traded the first 20 points of the 3rd set before a 6-2 run, boosted by a slew of Sam Houston attack errors, handed ORU a 16-12 lead. A solo block from Poljasevic made the lead 20-15, and ORU was all set for a huge win. The Bosnian sophomore clinched the match, with a kill at match point giving ORU a 25-19 victory.
Not to be overlooked in the win were the nine kills supplied by Pancratz. Sthephanie Mab was also stellar in the win, with nine digs.
Oral Roberts has now won six consecutive sets against the Bearkats. ORU swept Sam Houston, 3-0, in the semifinals of the 2012 SLC Tournament.
ORU's road trip concludes on Saturday, when they face Lamar. Match time in Beaumont, Texas is booked for 2 pm CT.