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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Volleyball

Back to basics for volleyball team


New head coach Molly Alvey hopes to improve upon the Cougars' 2009 record of 9-23 in the 2009. She replaces Bill Walton, who served for 24 years as head coach. | Daily Cougar File Photo

The UH volleyball program enters a new era this season as head coach Molly Alvey begins her first season with the Cougars.

Alvey will fill the shoes worn by former coach Bill Walton, who guided the Cougars for the last 24 seasons before retiring at the end of last season.

This is Alvey’s second stint as a head coach. Her first came in 2004, when she led Division II Southern Indiana to a 24-7 (15-1 conference) record as a part of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

“I think it was a good challenge that I’m now familiar with, and I’ve been through it once,” Alvey said. “It just made the transition a little bit easier here at Houston.”

Alvey, 31, became the fifth head coach in program history leaving Ole Miss, where she spent the last five seasons as an associate and assistant head coach.

“The difference here is that now it’s going back to all the teaching of the basic things that you don’t even think about, the jargon that you use every day, what your expectations are in certain drills and expectations on performance; all that stuff is stuff that I have to re-teach,” Alvey said. “That’s’ just simply part of being at a new program around new players.”

Alvey played volleyball at Centre College, where she was a four-year letterman as a setter and holds that program’s assists record with 4,340.

Alvey said her experience helps her relate to her players.

“I try to see the game as a player,” Alvey said. “As I coach, I see the game through a player’s eyes so even though I can’t be out there, I feel as if you know when I’m out here in practice or I’m at the matches. I feel as if I’m playing the game as well, so I think that helps.”

Recruiting in Texas and in Houston as a part of Conference USA will be a different animal than that of recruiting at Ole Miss and in the hard-nosed Southeastern Conference.

“At Ole Miss, we didn’t necessarily have these kids in our own backyard, and at a place like Houston, we can reach out to a lot more kids,” Alvey said. “Eighty percent of our job is to get the right kids here.”

During her last season at Ole Miss, Alvey served as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, helping bring the 23rd-ranked recruiting class to the Rebels. She hopes to produce similar results at UH.

The road to success for the Alvey-led Cougars gets going Friday when UH heads north to Austin for the Texas Invitational. The Cougars will open the season against  TCU before facing McNeese State later that day.

On Saturday, the Cougars will face arguably their toughest opponent of the season, Texas, the defending national runner-up.

“I don’t have any jitters,” Alvey said. “Whoever steps on the other side of the court, whether it be TCU, Texas or McNeese that first weekend, we got to be ready to compete at our best level against any one of those three teams.”

The Cougars are coming off a rough season, finishing 9-23 overall with a 6-10 record in C-USA, culminating in Walton’s resignation.

Senior defensive specialist Amanda Carson and junior middle blocker Lucy Charuk will be key players for Alvey in her first season as coach.


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