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ORU Opens SLC Schedule at Sam Houston State

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 09/11/2012
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TULSA, Okla. - Oral Roberts University jumps into their first Southland Conference season on Thursday, September 13 when they travel to Huntsville, Texas to face Sam Houston State. First serve at Johnson Coliseum is scheduled for 7 pm CT.

Live video and statistical coverage of ORU’s league opener is available at GoBearkats.com.

ORU (4-7) has lost five straight matches heading into Thursday’s tilt, including a winless weekend at the Mean Green Invitational in Denton, Texas. The Golden Eagles lost to host North Texas, Hofstra and Eastern Michigan at the event, with the last setback coming in five sets.

Senior Sheina Fernandes led the Golden Eagle offense at the event, with 2.83 kills per set, while junior Jessica Pancratz earned All-Tournament honors, the first of her career, after averaging 1.83 kills and 0.92 blocks per set at the event.

Senior Tatum Fredeen has paced ORU’s attack through 11 matches, averaging 2.81 kills per set. Junior libero Bruna Silva ranks 1st in the SLC and 47th in the NCAA Division I ranks with 4.98 blocks per set, while Pancratz is 2nd in the league with 1.24 blocks per set.

ORU’s five-match losing streak is their longest in-season skid since September 4-17, 2004, when they dropped six straight contests.

Thursday could potentially be a milestone evening for ORU Head Coach Sheera Sirola. With her next victory, the Golden Eagle boss will become the first coach in ORU volleyball history to earn 175 total victories and 100 victories against conference opponents.

SHSU is 4-7 on the season but snapped a four-match losing streak on September 8 with a 3-0 sweep of Tulane at the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans. Prior to the victory over the Green Wave, SHSU had lost to Arkansas State, Rice, Mississippi State and Pittsburgh in their last four matches.

SHSU is 2-1 at home, with victories over Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas Southern and a loss to Colorado, but the Bearkats have not played in Huntsville since August 25.

The Bearkats were picked 4th in the SLC Preseason Coaches’ Poll and 3rd in the conference’s Preseason SID Poll.

Senior Kim Black was an 2nd Team All-SLC performer last season and a Preseason All-SLC pick in 2012. The middle blocker averages 1.74 kills and 1.29 blocks per set through 11 matches. Sophomore Deveney Wells-Gibson averages a team-high 3.69 kills per set.

Head Coach Brenda Gray is in her 29th season at SHSU with a career record of 579-418.

The Bearkats are 4-3 all-time against Oral Roberts, but the teams have not faced off since August 31, 1996, when Sirola was a first-year student assistant on the ORU staff. The Golden Eagles swept that match, their second straight victory over SHSU.

Following Thursday’s match, the Golden Eagles will face another new SLC rival, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, on Saturday at 1 pm CT.

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