Cougars earn pair of wins to cap home slate
After a 1-3 road trip that ended with a six-set losing streak, the Cougars closed out October with arguably their best weekend of the season.
UH returned to Athletics/Alumni Center and won its final two home games of the season.
The Cougars (9-19, 6-7 Conference USA) won their most complete match of the season Friday, knocking off perennial power Marshall 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21), and East Carolina 3-1 (22-25, 25-10, 25-15, 25-12) Saturday.
In its victory over Marshall (19-7, 7-5), UH won the crucial first set to improve to 7-2 in matches when it wins the first set. Marshall made several costly attack errors early in the set, allowing the Cougars to capitalize with 17 kills.
Marshall won the second set, but that was the extent of its success, as the Cougars kept their composure and took the next two. The Cougars continued to rack up the kills in the final three sets, ending with 58 total.
Head coach Bill Walton said his team is capable of this type of firepower, but has been held back by inconsistency.
‘ ‘It’s one of our goals we’re practicing,’ Walton said. ‘We just have to get consistent, getting this many kills.’
Freshman outside hitter Jasmine Terry dominated the match, recording a career-high 19 kills.
‘ ‘I think we did really well in practice,’ Terry said. ‘I was really focused and intent on beating Marshall. That was the goal, and I was just going up swinging hard every time with no mercy.’
One of those 19 kills came at a pivotal moment in the third set, with the match tied at 1 and the Cougars leading 24-21.
The Thundering Herd responded with two points to creep within 24-23. Then the two teams were immersed in a long back-and-forth volley until Terry received a pass and softly placed the ball just inside the line to give UH a 2-1 lead in the match.
Terry, however, was not through with her late-game heroics.
The Cougars were ahead 24-21 again in the fourth set. Marshall was on the attack before Terry rose up and blocked a Cameron Yoho spike to end the match.
Before Saturday’s contest against East Carolina (9-16, 2-11), seniors Kinsey Cave, Alik Cardoso de Sa and Erin Rice were honored. UH commenced it with a victory over the Pirates.
After dropping the first set, the Cougars won the next three, allowing a combined 37 points. The Cougars also totaled 57 kills in the win over a struggling Pirates squad.
Walton said a minor adjustment made by the outside hitters made the difference in the match.
‘ ‘All we were trying to do is hit straight down the middle of the court, and I said, ‘hit line and hit angle and everything else would take care of itself,” Walton said. ‘Once we started putting a little pressure on them, we started siding out, we started serving good. Then once we kind of got the momentum, they couldn’t get it back.’
The Cougars will travel to El Paso to take on UTEP at 8 p.m. Friday before doubling back to New Orleans for a 1 p.m. match against Tulane on Sunday.