UH wins three straight sets in comeback win over SMU
Despite Houston finding itself on Friday night in a 0-2 hole against SMU and on the verge of a sweeping loss, UH stormed from behind to win three straight sets and its American Athletic Conference opener at the Fertitta Center.
The game started off with a back-and-forth battle for points as both teams fought to gain an early advantage. The Mustangs, however, were able to pull away towards the middle of the first set and won it 25-15.
The second set was dominated by SMU as they jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The Mustangs won the set 25-14.
“We just challenged them about competing. I don’t think we competed for the first two sets at all,” said head coach David Rehr on his message to the team after the early 2-0 deficit. “Once they could see they were vulnerable, we played harder, and we played better.”
It was clear that Rehr’s message resonated with the team as Houston came out in the third set trying to avoid losing the match in a 3-0 sweep. The Cougars jumped out to an early lead, but SMU refused to let the set get away.
With UH on the verge of their first set win up by two, SMU rallied to tie the set at 24. Despite what seemed to be a momentum shift, the Cougars were able to close out the Mustangs at the end and won the third set 27-25.
In the fourth set, UH started off strong again, but SMU caught up. The set ended in another back-and-forth struggle for control. With the set tied at 15-all, Houston pulled ahead and gained the edge over SMU, winning the set 25-20.
Now tied at two sets apiece, a battle for momentum between the two teams ensued. SMU got out in front of the fifth and final set early.
The Cougars fell into a hole late in the set as they trailed 11-14, but they managed to storm back by scoring five straight unanswered points and finished the set winning 16-14 and the match overall 3-2.
After the match, Rehr, while happy with the comeback, said the team still has work to do to avoid the early-set woes it struggles with.
“I don’t know why we go down early; It’s something different every time,” said Rehr. “We have to help them get out of their own way.”
The Cougars finished the match with 45 kills, six aces, 33 total blocks, 43 assists and 63 digs.
Senior outside hitter Megan Duncan led the Cougars in kills with 18 while sophomore setter Kelsey Childers led the team in assists with 22.
On defense, freshman middle blocker Rachel Tullos aided the team with nine blocks, and senior defensive specialist Katie Karbo led the Cougars with 19 digs.
The Cougars compete on the court again Sunday afternoon at the Fertitta Center against the Memphis Tigers.
“We want to win the whole thing; we want to win the American Conference,” said Rehr on the team’s ceiling. But for Sunday, “Beat Memphis.”