UH cooks Rice at home
The UH volleyball team (4-6) got back on the winning track after sweeping aside rival Rice and ending the Owls’ winning streak at two matches.
The match (30-22, 30-23, 30-27) was the first of the Houston Invitational, which will also feature matches against Stephen F. Austin and Wake Forest.
Junior setter Kelsey King was back in the line up for the Cougars. King had been out since Aug. 31 due to illness. Rice (5-6) started the game off on the wrong foot when UH scored eight unanswered points, including two service aces by sophomore outside hitter Kinsey Cave.
Houston led the game from that point forward and ended the match on a service ace by junior outside hitter Justine Farmer.
The two teams started the second game by trading points up until 5-5. UH then pulled away and went up 11-6 after consecutive setting errors on Rice setter Caroline Gill.
UH completed a 10-3 run with a kill by freshman middle blocker Lucy Charuk that sent a chill through the Cougar Den.
UH took a 2-0 lead at halftime after Farmer ended another game – this time with a kill.
Farmer led all players through two games with 13 kills. Rice got a boost from junior outside hitter Karyn Morgan, who recorded a team-high of three kills in the second game.
It wouldn’t be a UH-Rice match without a little dramatic suspense. The third game delivered just that.
After the Cougars took a 15-9 lead and looked to be well on their way to victory, Rice scored 10 of the match’s next 11 points to go up 16-19. Houston tied the match at 20 on a block by sophomore middle blocker Erin Rice.
The two teams would then trade points until 25-25 when the Cougars scored two unanswered after another block by Rice and a kill by King to complete the sweep of the Owls.
Farmer had a game-high 17 kills. Freshman outside hitter Hannah Sullivan was second on the team with 11, while King finished with a match-high 35 assists.
Sophomore middle blocker Natalie Bogan led Rice with 12 kills and Morgan contributed with eight.
"It felt amazing to be back in the action," said King. "It kind of helped me when I was out because I saw things that I needed to improve upon. This was the first conference game I’ve ever played. It felt awesome."
Head coach Bill Walton said that the packed house at the Cougar Den was instrumental in his team’s win.
"Outstanding crowd," Walton said. "The band was great. They bring an energy to the gym that really kind of sets the tone for the entire crowd."
The Cougars will get right back to it against Stephen F. Austin at 7 p.m. today in the Athletics/Alumni Center.
The Ladyjacks are the only team coming into the tournament with a record above .500. This will be their first match since winning the Ladyjack Invitational last weekend.
Senior setter JJ Jones was named the Tournament’s MVP and has recorded a double-double in two of her last five matches.
UH will be looking for payback after SFA beat the Cougars last year in a five-game thriller. The game was the first of 26 consecutive wins for the Ladyjacks.
In that mach, Farmer set career highs of 23 kills and 38 digs.
"It’s hard to play like that and not come up with a win," said Farmer. This year we have a lot of people that can contribute to all of the different aspects of the game. I think it’s going to be a fun match."