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Monday, September 25, 2023


UH focuses on road games

For a team to truly be considered a contender in Conference USA, it has to win on the road. This weekend, UH volleyball (11-8, 6-2 C-USA) will see how much of a contender it is when it plays Alabama-Birmingham and Memphis.

Winning on the road may prove to be a weighty task for the Cougars as Memphis has only lost two matches at home this season, while UAB has a clean home record.

The first match of the weekend is 7 p.m. today at Bartow Arena when the Cougars go up against a UAB team that is tied with UH and Tulsa for third place in C-USA.

"A lot of teams in our conference do well at home," sophomore defensive specialist Lauren Dobbs said. "It’s important to win on the road, though, if you want to be taken seriously. On the road all we have is each other and we’re ready to go play."

This season, UH is 4-4 on the road away from the Cougar Den at the Athletics/Alumni Center.

The Cougars, who are coming off a three-match winning streak, are 14-1 all-time against the Blazers.

A couple of wins this weekend could make them a top team in conference.

The Cougars are ranked third in C-USA blocks (2.6 per game) and kills (15.55 per game).

UAB (16-6, 6-2 C-USA) goes into tonight’s match against the Cougars with eight consecutive victories. Six of those wins were against C-USA teams.

UH is no stranger to breaking up streaks after ending the Blazers’ 10-match winning streak last season in a sweep on the Cougars’ home turf (30-21,30-24,30-27).

Junior outside hitter and reigning C-USA Offensive Player of the Week Justine Farmer had 11 kills and 10 digs in that win and is hoping for more of the same this time around.

"It’s always easier to play teams that are doing well because you have nothing to lose," Farmer said. "We don’t really go in there worried about how we’re going to play we just play hard."

UAB’s standout players are junior outside hitter Ivana Bozic and junior setter Nevena Stefanov.

Bozic has a team-high 298 kills this season and recorded a match-high 17 kills in her team’s last match against East Carolina on Sunday.

Stefanov received C-USA Setter of the Week honors for the second time in three weeks after averaging 56 assists against Mercer (3-1), Marshall (3-2) and ECU (3-1).

On Sunday, Houston will travel to Memphis to face the Tigers (16-8, 9-2 C-USA) at 1 p.m.

The last time these teams met was in the 2006 C-USA tournament semifinals when Memphis defeated the Cougars 3-1.

Memphis senior middle hitter Shelby Burton had 21 kills in last year’s semifinal match and is expected to be a key player in Sunday’s match against the Cougars.

Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Calhoun and Farmer both had solid performances against Memphis last season. Farmer had 15 kills and 12 digs while Calhoun picked up 11 digs.

The Tigers, who are fourth in conference play, must now contend with the league standouts on the Cougar squad.

Farmer is a C-USA leader in kills (6 per game) and points (187.5), while freshman libero Amanda Carson is fourth in digs with 146 (5.03 per game).

Sophomore middle blocker Erin Rice sits at sixth in blocks with 34 (1.17 per game) and freshman outside hitter Hannah Sullivan is seventh in points with 135 and sixth in aces with 11.

The Cougars need to put their past losses behind them and focus on bringing home wins if they want to be first in Conference USA.

"A few years ago we lost to them at their place and we haven’t been able to get over that rock for a while now," head coach Bill Walton said. "We need to reestablish our effectiveness on the road and show people that we’re as good at home as we are on the road."

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