DENTON, Texas – The Central Arkansas Sugar Bears saw their season end after losing a five-set thriller against the Wichita State Shockers in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship on Thursday night. The duo of Tabitha Brown and Megan Taflinger led the Shockers to victory as they combined for 44 of WSU’s 66 kills. Samantha Anderson led the Sugar Bears with 18 kills and a .359 hitting percentage while Haley Tippett followed with 12 kills and Abbie Harry added nine. Wichita State looked to be in cruise control heading into the fourth set as they had won sets two and three handily, but Central Arkansas responded with a gritty 25-23 set win to push the match to five sets. Head coach Jeni Jones Chatman was very pleased with her team’s response in set four. “We have some great girls that will get the chance to step up next year. We all know what they’re capable of because we see it every day in practice,” Anderson said. “The reason why we were such a good team is because we played against good girls on the other side of the net in practices. The third set started close as Anderson landed a kill in the back-right corner that tied the set at 2-2, but the Shockers created separation with a 14-4 spurt that gave them the 16-6 lead. Up 8-6, Wichita State went on a 6-0 run as Taflinger caught fire and had five kills in the stretch. The Sugar Bears could not cool down the Shockers as they closed the set on a 17-7 run and won 25-13. They finished with 20 kills in the third set alone and were led by the hands of Taflinger as she delivered 9 of them. I have complete confidence that the team will have new seniors step up and have freshmen that will follow the footsteps of the older girls and help contribute.” The Sugar Bears season ends with a 26-7 record, the sixth time in nine seasons that the team finished with more than 25 wins. The team will lose five important seniors, but Anderson thinks the team will be fine looking ahead to next year. “I am very proud of the fight that our team had in the fourth set. Samantha Anderson was a big reason for that, she led the way and everyone followed her lead,” Chatman said. “Wichita State is a very talented program year after year and so for us to be able to pull out set four was very impressive.”We are very proud of the fight. So fortunate to be a team of incredible people that push & want the best for each other. Seniors, there are no words, you will be greatly missed. #BearClawsUp #InsiemeSiamoUno #TogetherWeAreOne #26and7 ??: @bradleywidding pic.twitter.com/xpzwTfzkV8— 2017 Southland Tournament Champions (@ucavball) November 30, 2018 Brown helped the Shockers jump out to an early 2-0 lead in set five after she delivered back-to-back kills. The Sugar Bears pulled within one after a Savanah Allen kill made it 5-4, but the Shockers responded with a 6-2 run that saw three straight Sugar Bear errors and Wichita State held a commanding 11-6 lead. Central Arkansas made it a three-point game after an Anderson kill and Shocker error made it 12-9, but Wichita State quickly answered with two kills of their own and held a 14-9 lead. The Sugar Bears tried to make one last run as they got another Anderson kill and Shocker error to make it 14-11, but the set ended on the next point as Central Arkansas’ serve landed out in the back-right corner and the Shockers won 15-11. The fourth set had a postseason feel to it as there were 14 ties recorded in the game. After the eighth tie of the set at 9-9, the Sugar Bears found a gasp of air as they went on a mini 2-0 spurt that made it 11-9. As both sides continued to battle, the Shockers got a Taflinger kill and Emma Wright service ace to make it 14-14, the 9th tie of the set. After five more ties occurred and the score sat at 21-21, Central Arkansas went on a 4-2 run that was led by two big kills from Harry that helped the Sugar Bears finally pull away and get the clutch 25-23 fourth set win.Thankful for another great season at my Alma Mater. Finished the season at 26-7. It’s never easy to see the last point of a senior class. Proud of this team and staff for another stellar season. pic.twitter.com/tlvtdtwdpJ— John Newberry (@TheCoachJohn) November 30, 2018 The Shockers did not have their heads down as they came out in the second set and started with a commanding 9-1 lead that contained five Sugar Bear errors. Central Arkansas responded well with a 10-4 run that was capped off by three straight Wichita State errors that made it 13-11. The Sugar Bears got even closer after two more Shocker errors made it 14-13, but Wichita State went on a 6-0 run that helped them pull away for good. A Shocker service error gave the Sugar Bears a glimmer of hope as the lead was cut to six, but a Sugar Bears service error gave the Shockers the 25-18 win. The Shockers jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first set after Brown got going quickly and delivered two of her 22 kills early. Anderson wasted no time in making her presence known as she delivered back-to-back kills and evened the score at 4-4. After three more ties occurred, Central Arkansas gained its first lead after a Wichita State error made it 9-8. The Shockers responded with a 4-1 run and held a 11-9 lead, but the Sugar Bears went on a run of their own and created some separation after a Ravin Rhodes ace made it 14-12. After a Shockers ace tied it back at 15-15, the Sugar Bears went on a crucial 4-0 run sparked by three Tippett kills that made it 19-15. The Shockers would pull within two at 19-17, but the Sugar Bears closed the door on the comeback as Anderson and Tippett delivered back-to-back kills to win set one 25-20.