Volleyball starts season close to home
Although UH volleyball program will technically open their season on the road, the players won’t even be in transit long enough to watch an episode of a favorite show.
The team will head just 13 miles southwest to compete in the Marriott Houston Westchase Classic at Houston Baptist University. The Cougars will open the tournament against the University of Louisiana – Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
In their sole meeting at the Sawyer Camillo Memorial Classic in Lafayette last season, the Cougars dropped the first set of the match to the hosts before winning three straight and capturing the tournament championship. Senior outside hitter Hunter Wise led the team in total points as she amassed 16 kills and one dig.
Entering the Marriott tournament, the Cougars see the return of all three starters from last year’s front line. However, they will replace valuable members of the back row like libero Olivia O’Dell, setter Sophie Paine and defensive specialist Destiny Patterson.
With Paine gone, junior setter Keandra McCardell will move into a full-time role and provide some much-needed leadership to a back row consisting mostly freshmen and transfers.
The departure of O’Dell left the Cougars without an experienced leader, but head coach Kaddie Platt said that sophomore middle blocker Chenelle Walker has stepped up and “shown some leadership qualities that are important.”
On the other side of the net, the Ragin’ Cajuns boast a youthful squad that consists of five freshmen and six sophomores. ULL will be led by junior middle blocker Chanelle Gardner, who scored the most points against the Cougars last year.
After UH’s first game, the players will have the luxury of sleeping in their own beds before they play a double header the following day.
The Cougars will face the Weber State University Wildcats at 10 a.m. followed by the host team, the HBU Huskies, at 7 p.m.
The Cougars have yet to face Weber State during the Platt era, but are 1-1 all-time against the Wildcats all-time. Despite being neighbors for 30 years since the inception of the HBU volleyball team, the Cougars have not competed against the Huskies and will look to earn the first win of the series.
Without the long and exhausting traveling that typically comes with road games, the Cougars will get the opportunity to start the season just minutes away from the Athletics/Alumni Center.