Cougars improve to 6-0 in The American behind strong defense
Behind a pair of double-doubles and a season-high 95 digs, Houston improved to 6-0 for its best conference start since 2001 after the Cougars downed the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 3-1 on the road Sunday afternoon.
Senior outside hitter Megan Duncan (12 kills, 12 digs) and junior setter Abby Irvine (40 assists, 15 digs) notched double-doubles for the Cougars while senior libero Katie Karbo aided in Houston’s season-high in digs with 28.
The first set started off as a tight battle for control as both teams traded turns taking marginal leads. For most of the set, neither team was able to build more than a two-point advantage.
The Cougars were able to outlast the Golden Hurricane when Tulsa sent the ball out of bounds which gave Houston the 28-26 set win.
Houston followed up a tough-fought first set win with a quick start in the second.
Junior setter Abby Irvine extended Houston’s lead to five points in the middle of the set with a kill. Tulsa rallied toward the end, but the Cougars held on to their lead to win the second set.
Sophomore middle blocker Isabel Theut and freshman outside hitter Abbie Jackson both got credited with half blocks for the final point. UH won the second set 25-23.
Holding a 2-0 match advantage, Houston came out in the third set looking for the sweep as it built another early-set lead.
A kill from Duncan put UH up 11-7, but Tulsa remained focused and went on 9-4 run to take a 17-16 lead.
The Golden Hurricane extended their lead, but a late rally from the Cougars was not enough as Tulsa closed out the third set with 25-22 win.
The fourth set was another tightly-contested battle between the two teams as Tulsa tried to even up the match.
Senior outside hitter Claire Karsten’s kill late in the fourth set gave Houston an 18-15 lead, and the Cougars were able to build on that play to finish off the set with a 25-23 win.
Houston finished the match with 53 kills, two aces, 11 total blocks, and 49 assists.
Jackson carried her play from Friday night into Sunday afternoon as she once again led the Cougars in kills with 17.
Irvine set up her teammates at a high rate again, finishing the game with 40 of the team’s 49 assists.
On defense, freshman middle blocker Rachel Tullos led the Cougars with six blocks.
The Cougars will look to improve to 7-0 in American Conference play on Friday night as they return to the Fertitta Center to take on the ECU Pirates.