Volleyball team falls to Rice, ends season on 3-game skid
It’s not a rivalry match unless it goes five games.
The Cougars ended their first season under head coach Molly Alvey with an entertaining, yet brutal 3-2 (25-18, 25-23, 21-25, 19-25, 14-16) loss in a showdown against rival Rice on Saturday at Tudor Fieldhouse.
UH (19-13, 13-7 Conference USA) held a 2-0 match lead before Rice (16-16, 11-9) rallied to win three consecutive games and take the match.
“I think Rice did a good job of keeping their composure and continuing to stay in the match,” Alvey said. “It would be very easy to go down two sets to zero and check out, but they didn’t. It was very clear at times that we stepped up and played really great volleyball.
“It was clean, good ball control and really smart swings. It comes down to when you are playing good teams, you’ve got to do that consistently start to finish.”
Lucy Charuk led the Cougars with 17 kills. Ingrida Zauere chipped in with 23 digs and nine kills while Chandace Tryon added 11 kills.
“Lucy played unbelievable” Alvey said. “I think she zoned in. She honed in on blocking, and she just got in the zone and really played incredibly.”
In the opening game, the Owls were up 7-4, but the Cougars answered with a 10-0 run to go up 14-7.
On their senior night, the Owls battled back to go on a 7-2 run to cut the UH lead to 16-14. The Cougars ended the first set on a 9-4 run to get the win.
The second game was tied at 15 before the Owls pulled away to take a 21-18 lead. However, they let it slip late, as the Cougars rallied to end the match on a 7-2 run and take a 2-0 game lead.
The Cougars were up 8-7 before the Owls went on a 6-1 run to take a 13-9 lead in the third set. The Owls increased their lead to 17-12 before the Cougars rallied to pull within 21-20. Rice scored four of the final five points to win the game.
“After the third set, we were still kind of together, but a few things were falling apart and after that it was really hard to get going,” Charuk said. “I think we just needed a few more people to step up a little bit more.”
The fourth game was back-and-forth until the Owls went on a 7-0 run to take a 19-13 lead and hold on to win 25-19.
The fifth and deciding game had Rice carrying the momentum. The game was tied 9-9, 10-10 and 11-11 as the teams stayed even. Rice took a 14-11 lead as their comeback was nearly complete.
The Cougars rallied to score three consecutive points to tie it 14-14 and force extra points, but the Owls would score back-to-back points and capitalize on a UH error to win 16-14.
The Owls swept the season series against UH.
“I think it kind of summed up the match,” Alvey said. “I think, when it came down to it, we made too many errors.
“If we would have eliminated a few of those, what would the circumstances be otherwise? Hindsight is 20/20, so you learn from it and you get better immediately for next season.”
The Cougars finished their campaign in sole possession of third place in C-USA, despite consecutive losses at SMU, Tulsa and Rice to end the season.