Cowgirls reach semis, hope third time is charm against HBU

Special to the American Press

HOUSTON — Anyse Smith registered 20 kills and McNeese breezed into the semifinals of the Southland Conference women’s volleyball tournament on Friday with a 3-1 win over Nicholls State.

The third-seeded Cowgirls (17-10), who have won eight of their last 10 matches, lost the first set 25-19 but rallied to win the next three 25-19, 25-23 and 25-23 to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2015. McNeese will meet tournament host, No. 2 Houston Baptist (21-7), at noon today. The Huskies, who have won seven consecutive matches, swept the two regular-season meetings, including the finale on Nov. 11 in Lake Charles. They are 10-0 at home.

Baylee Laskoskie led the Cowgirls with 30 assists, nine digs and three aces. Kendall Glueck had 10 kills and five blocks. Aryn Johnson scored 12 kills. Jaylin Gordon recorded a team-high seven blocks.

The No. 7 Colonels (11-17), making their first tournament appearance since 2014, were led by Emily Gauthreaux with 16 kills, Kate Koerdemann and Kylie Lockhart with eight digs apiece and Aaliyah Burras had a match-high eight blocks to go with seven kills. Katie Jones had 13 kills.

The Cowgirls jumped to a 6-2 lead in the third set. Leading 11-8, Nicholls went on a 5-0 run to take a 13-11. McNeese responded with a 5-0 run to take a 16-13 lead. With the set tied at 22 apiece, kills by Smith and Glueck put the Cowgirls up 24-22. After a kill by Nicholls, Gordon’s kill gave the Cowgirls the set.

The teams traded points in the fourth set until a 6-0 run put the Cowgirls up 13-8. Three straight points by Nicholls cut the lead to 13-11, but McNeese scored the next four points for a 17-11 lead. McNeese extended its lead to 23-18 on a Nicholls error but the Colonels recovered to score the next four points to cut the McNeese lead to 23-22. Glueck struck again for a 24-23 lead before Gauthreaux’s kill kept the Colonels within a point. Smith put the match away with a kill for the Cowgirls victory.

SLC Women’s Volleyball Tournament Thursday

Match 1 — No. 7 Nicholls St. 3, No. 6 Northwestern St. 1

Match 2 — No. 5 Incarnate Word 3, No. 8 New Orleans 2


Match 3 — No. 3 McNeese St. 3, No. 7 Nicholls St. 1

Match 4 — No. 5 Incarnate Word 3, No. 4 Southeastern Louisiana 1

Saturday Semifinals

Match 5 — No. 3 McNeese St. (17-10) vs. No. 2 Houston Baptist (21-7), noon

Match 6 — No. 5 Incarnate Word (13-17) vs. No. 1 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (17-9), 2:30 p.m.

Sunday Championship

Match 7 — Winner Match 5 vs. Winner Match 6, 2 p.m.

Note: All matches streamed on ESPN+