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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Another serving of rivalry

Conference play is here, and the UH volleyball team is looking to improve their season record as they take on rival Rice tonight at the Athletics/Alumni Center.

Rice (5-5) will be looking to extend its winning streak to three matches while the Cougars are trying to break out of a three-match rut that began last week in San Marcos.

Head coach Bill Walton said his team won’t be over-anxious against the Owls.

"We’ve played pretty well at home so far. We pass better at home, and we’re more confident. Our Cougar Den gives us a nice little home court advantage," Walton said.

UH will once again be led by junior outside hitter and reigning Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week Justine Farmer.

The Cougars will get added help this match as junior setter Kelsey King is expected to be back in uniform after missing two weeks due to illness.

Houston walked away with the better of two in the last three matches against Rice in the 2006 season.

Only five players on the roster saw action the last time these two teams faced each other.

Fast forward a year, and UH has the added strength of several freshmen who are expected to contribute big plays.

That includes middle blocker Lucy Charuk, whose solid performance earned her All-Tournament Team honors at the Century Tel-Premier last weekend in San Marcos.

"We want to take the same approach to every game," Charuk said. "When we get over-excited that’s when we make mistakes so we’re just looking at it as another match."

The Owls are coming off of a second-place finish at the Nike Gamecock Invitational in South Carolina last weekend.

Sophomore outside hitters Jennifer McClean and Jessie Boulavsky earned All-Tournament Team honors for the Owls.

Rice should have contributions from juniors Jessica Holderness and Karyn Morgan who are first and second on the team in kills, respectively.

Houston sophomore middle blocker Erin Rice is coming off of a season-best 13 kills against Missouri. She said that the tough pre-conference schedule, which included three teams from the Big 12 Conference, will help her team in moving forward this season.

"Playing teams like Kansas State, Texas and Missouri made us work hard," Rice said. "Although we lost, we still improved everyday, and I know those types of matches made us stronger for conference play."

After last week, which included five matches in four days, Walton feels that there is room for improvement on his team.

"We’re getting physically prepared to play against Rice," Walton said. "Some of our players will need to play at there highest potential for an entire match. I think when Rice walks through the door no one will be tired."

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