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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sports

Cougars search for first conference win amid busy schedule


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Junior outside hitter Brianna Lynch has stringed together three strong performances despite playing in one of the Cougars’ busiest stretches of the season. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

The women’s volleyball team will welcome the Tulane University Green Wave to the Athletics/Alumni Center Wednesday night, seeking their first win in American Athletic Conference play.

Tulane enters the match at 12-8 overall and 4-4 in conference games. They have lost their past two, though, despite a combined 31 kills by junior outside hitter Sarah Ray.

Tulane is powered by a defense that is holding opponents to a .201 hitting percentage while totaling 1,270 digs and 170.5 blocks in 83 sets.

“They have pretty active middles and outsides and they are second or so in our conference in digs per game, so they’re strong in defense and being able to keep transitions going,” said head coach Kaddie Platt.

The match against Tulane is the third in the past week for the Cougars, which is one of the most action-packed stretches of the schedule this season.

The quick turnaround between matches can limit the time the Cougars can practice and review their upcoming opponent.

“We’re doing the same number of hours for each match, no matter what we have going on,” Platt said. “We still get our practices in and it just means that during match times you’re focusing on that game plan.”

The condensed schedule also presents additional things besides time for coaches to worry about.

With little time between matches, the players’ bodies don’t have as long to heal and rest as they are used to when playing a more spaced-out schedule.

“We have to work really hard to get the girls to recover quickly and bounce back,” Platt said. “At this point of the season, you’re pretty beat up, so a lot of time is working toward getting rested and recovered and getting the mobility back.”

One player who has thrived on shorter rest is junior outside hitter Brianna Lynch. The Richmond, Texas, native has turned up her play recently, totaling 33 kills over the past three matches.

No matter the schedule, though, Platt knew there are some things the team can’t control. Platt has made sure to do all she can to put the Cougars in the best position to succeed.

“We get it all in,” Platt said. “We don’t have any choices. We have to work hard to keep (the players) recovered and fit, which is a delicate balance.”

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