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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Strength on back line key for Cougars


Freshman defensive specialist Kendall Montgomery (left) will provide some depth for the Cougars along the back line, and will be looking to make an impact right away in her debut season. | Bryce Dodds/The Cougar

The Cougars are entering a year filled with a degree of roster uncertainty.

UH will be anchored by a group of four seniors, but with five incoming additions and the loss of four senior leaders following last season, the team will have a new dynamic.

A premier group to contribute to the Cougars success will be the defensive specialists and libero’s.

Head coach Kaddie Platt has stressed the importance of strong serving and keeping the ball off the floor on the defensive end, putting a strong emphasis on the play of the group. While it features some young players, they also show a lot of promise.

Senior Libero Olivia O’Dell: With three years of experience at Houston, O’Dell will be a vocal leader not only for her group, but for the team as a whole.

Last season, O’Dell tied with fellow Libero, senior Natalie Keck, for the most sets played during the season, with 129 sets, and appeared in all 32 games for the Cougars.

O’Dell was second on the team in total digs, as well as digs per set with 314 and 2.43 respectively.

This season, she will be looked upon to be a key piece for the Cougars, and will assume the role of Libero full time.

Junior Defensive Specialist Marisa Guzman: Guzman played a shortened season last year following an injury, but will look to return strong for the Cougars this season.

As one of the most experienced defensive specialists on the team, Guzman will be looked upon to bring some stability to the Cougars back line.

While Guzman played in just 73 sets last season, she collected 99 digs and averaged 1.36 digs per game, and recorded just 18 reception errors all season.

Freshman Defensive Specialist Kendall Montgomery: One of the unknowns for the Cougars is Montgomery, one of two incoming defensive specialist freshman.

In high-school, Montgomery showed versatility as she earned honors such as All-District Defensive MVP as well as the Outstanding Setter Award, which she won two times.

Montgomery also displayed skill at the Libero position in high-school, which will help provide depth for the Cougars in case of injury.

Freshman Defensive Specialist Darby Shaw: A decorated high-school athlete, Shaw comes to Houston following an outstanding career at Deer Park High School.

While competing in at Deer Park, Shaw helped lead her team to four straight District Championships in her four years as a starter, as well as many notable individual awards such as First Team All-District and District Defensive MVP.

Shaw spent time at libero while captaining her high school team, and will be a strong addition to the Cougar squad.

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