When Kaddie Platt was hired as head volleyball coach in March, the UH Athletic Department made clear their long-term expectation for the new hire — earn Houston volleyball a top-25 ranking.
“There’s so much going on here at UH,” Platt said. “(Mack Rhoades’) leadership, and the things he’s devoting his energies to … I was totally supportive of that. It felt like I could work for someone with his big goals for this program.”
After spending 17 years as head coach of Houston Baptist, Platt’s challenges as head coach will have high stakes attached. Not only is the ultimate goal for Cougar volleyball to reach top-25 status, but also to make a splash in the final year of Conference USA competition before UH heads to the Big East.
Under former head coach Molly Alvey, Houston reached as high as 38 in the country after starting the 2011 season ranked at 91.
“It’s a small core group of girls but they work their tails off,” Platt said. “I knew I had inherited something great when I got here. Myself and everyone on the staff is driven to make these girls better everyday.”
The Cougars lost Ingrida Zauire and Third Team All-American Lucy Charuk — two major players in UH’s success last season — to graduation, but the team plans to utilize the agility of their new frontline to quicken the pace of their offense.
“Speed is going to be a lot more of our forte,” Platt said. “If you look at last year’s team, Lucy was hitting a hanging ball most of the time but this team is going to hit right out of the setter’s hands.”
The success of Houston’s new offense will largely be contingent on the leadership of setter Caitlin Ogletree, who in her freshman year won C-USA Setter of the Week on three occasions during the 2011 season.
“We’re planning to have a dominant season,” Ogletree said. “Our offense is moving a lot faster, a lot more fluid. Kaddie’s come in from day one and told us what she expects from us. She’s been on top of her job, and we’re working to be on top of ours.”
Ogletree, who led the team in service aces during the 2011 season with 30, is one of the pleasant surprises Platt discovered in UH’s spring practice sessions.
From day one, Platt stressed, Ogletree bought into the new system and worked with the team’s hitters to perfect the quick-style offense.
“She’s just a go-hard competitor, a great defensive player, she puts up a good ball,” Platt said. “I’ve been really impressed with her as a person and a player.”
With a new offense, a new coach and newly recruited players in the mix to start the fall season, Platt acknowledges the road will be bumpy. But ultimately, she said, the goal is to raise the level of Cougar volleyball through team discipline.
“The goal is there: We want to be a top-25 program,” Platt said. “Everyday we wake up we need to want that. This is our job to do, so we’re just going to jump in with two feet.”