Cougars win home games
For the UH volleyball team, the Athletics/Alumni Center is home sweet home. The Cougars won back-to-back matches against Conference USA rivals SMU on Saturday and Tulsa on Friday.
The Cougars beat SMU 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-11, 25-20) and swept Tulsa (25-21, 25-21, 25-22). Houston is 9-7 on the season with a 2-2 record in C-USA at the season’s halfway point.
Senior outside hitter Justine Farmer led the Cougars with 20 kills and 15 digs, getting her fourth double-double of the season. Senior setter Kelsey King had 50 assists and junior right side hitter Kinsey Cave chipped in with 17 kills.
Farmer said the Cougars must focus on returning the other team’s serves well to continue their win streak.
"Serve-receive is our main focus right now," Farmer said.
Houston led the Mustangs for most of the match by controlling the ball and being aggressive on offense. After SMU won the second set 25-22 to gain momentum, the Cougars came out on fire after halftime, taking a 10-2 lead to start and never looking back. The Cougars dominated the Mustangs in the third set with a 91 percent sideout efficiency, making 12 kills and only one error.
Sophomore outside hitter Kathryn Wilkerson led SMU with nine kills against Houston. The Mustangs are 9-9 on the season and 2-3 in C-USA.
In Friday’s match against Tulsa, the Cougars won their conference-opener and continued their undefeated streak at home with their second consecutive win in Houston. Farmer led the Cougars with 13 kills and added nine digs against the Golden Hurricane.
Although excited about the 3-0 win, the Cougars were also happy to get another home game under their belts.
"At the very beginning (of the season), since we were on the road so much and never at home, it felt like we didn’t have a home court," Cave said. "We did pretty well away – I don’t think we had too tough of a time, but we definitely feel better when we have the home court advantage."
Houston was able to maintain a lead against the Golden Hurricanes in all three sets. Farmer said the Cougars concentrated on continuing the momentum from the first two sets.
"We have this thing where we win two and we come out relaxed, and we didn’t want to come out relaxed today," Farmer said. "Our main focus was to push hard and win the last one and not going to four (sets)."
Tulsa senior outside hitter Beth Hodge collected a season-high 20 kills against the Cougars, and the Golden Hurricane are 15-4 (2-3 C-USA) on the season.
UH head coach Bill Walton said his team is better than its 9-7 record indicates, and that his team faced setbacks when Hurricane Ike forced the Cougars to cancel practices and four games at home.
"I know we are .500, but truly in my mind we should be maybe 11-2, but the hurricane kind of set us back two and a half weeks," Walton said. "We were getting really good, (and) then the hurricane put us back."
Farmer leads Houston with 216 kills this season to go along with 136 digs. King has a team-high 628 assists and sophomore defensive specialist Amanda Carson has 179 digs on the season.
The Cougars will play Texas State (9-11, 3-1 Southland Conference) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Athletics/Alumni Center to close out their three-game home stand.
Admission is free for students with a valid CougarOne card.