A quick look at the incoming freshmen for Houston volleyball
The American Athletic Conference gave the green light for competitions in the fall on Wednesday afternoon, and one of those teams that will be eager to start its season will be the Houston volleyball team.
“We’re so ready to be back in the gym together,” senior setter Abby Irvine said in mid-July during a Zoom conference call with fans. Now with a starting line in sight, the Cougars can actually think about getting on the court.
Following a strong resurgence in 2019, in which the team finished 10-6 against the AAC, the Cougars are excited to build on last season and compete for a conference championship.
Although the team loses seniors Megan Duncan, Katie Karbo and Abby Giles from last season, Houston adds three new freshmen to its roster.
Here is an early look at the newest additions to the UH volleyball team:
Coming out of Cypress Ranch High School is the 6-foot-1-inch middle blocker, Brooklyn Gamble.
After leading her old high school, Palmer Ridge, to top-three finishes in her district in both her sophomore and junior years, which included a top-five finish in the state finals in 2017-18, Gamble moved to Cypress Ranch for her senior season and was named a team captain.
“Brooklyn is a powerful hitter that has the ability to play multiple positions for our team,” head coach David Rehr said back in May about Gamble. “Her competitiveness and strength will be an asset for not just her future, but the future of our program as well.”
At Cypress Ranch, Gamble also led the team with the highest hitting percentage (.336) and most blocks (105) in her senior season.
Annie Cooke joins the Cougars as a setter and is coming off a 30-6 senior season that culminated in a district championship for The Woodlands College Park High School.
Cooke enters UH with a list of accolades including a two-time District 15-6A First Team honoree, a three-time addition to the AVCA Phenom List and a spot on the TAVC All-American list in 2019.
“I have known Annie for a couple of years now, and she is a standout leader and an excellent setter,” Rehr said. “We expect great things from Annie in her future as a Houston volleyball player.”
Cooke was also named the All Montgomery County Co-Offensive MVP, made the TGCA All-State 6A Team and received a VYPE Honorable Mention in 2019.
The 5-foot-4-inch defensive specialist and libero joins the Cougars off a 41-4 senior season for Flower Mound High School that finished in a district, bi-district and area championship in 2019.
The four-year letterman in high school led her team to a 43-7 record her junior year and capped it off with a state championship for Flower Mound.
“Sarah is a proven winner who is a Texas state champion and has won at the highest level,” Rehr said. “She will compete for a job on our team immediately. Sarah is an excellent defender and has the on-court leadership needed to compete at this level.”
Martinez enters UH averaging 5.9 digs per set in both her junior and senior seasons. She was her district’s defensive player of the year and was awarded the Dallas Morning News All-Area Libero of the Year in both 2018 and 2019.