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Saturday, December 2, 2023


No. 21 volleyball falls in first game vs. No. 7 Texas

Kenna Sauer had a huge game for UH, ending with 23 kills in the Cougars’ loss. | Anh Le/The Cougar

No. 21 Houston volleyball was able to compete with No. 7 Texas at home Saturday afternoon but was unable to capture the win, losing in four sets.

Houston opened up the scoring in front of a raucous, 7,054-strong crowd (a new record) in Fertitta Center with a kill from junior middle blocker Kellen Morin. However, Texas was able to grab the lead soon after and began pulling away before the first timeout to go up 15-9.

The Cougars responded out of the break, closing the gap to within three down the stretch before the Longhorns closed it out to win the first set 25-21.

UH came out on fire in the second set, as outside hitters Abbie Jackson and Katie Corelli led the Cougars to an early 9-5 lead, getting the crowd back in the game.

Midway through the set, however, Texas gained the lead for the first time in the set thanks to a dominant 7-2 to make it 15-13.  The Cougars held firm, however, and went on a 3-0 run of their own to take the lead capped off by a slick kill by graduate outside hitter Kenna Sauer.

From there, Houston went a massive 8-0, set-clinching run led by huge points from Sauer and Morin.

A crucial third set went back and forth before UT once again won a quick run to take the lead at the break 15-12.

Out of the break, graduate outside hitter Abbie Jackson landed two service aces to spur a 4-0 and give UH a 17-16 before a Texas timeout. A few points later, Sauer put the team on her back with two straight kills and a block assist to put UH up 22-18. Sauer would the game in kills, with 23.

The Longhorns roared back however, tying it at 23 and forcing head coach David Rehr to call a timeout at a critical moment. Twice in a row, Sauer attempted to spike it hard through the Texas defense, but both times the Longhorns got block. UT took the third set and led 2-1 entering the fourth.

Thanks a litany of early errors to begin the fourth set, Texas jumped out to an 11-5 lead that the Cougars ultimately could not recover from. Despite bringing it to within three, Texas was able to close out the set and hand UH its sixth loss of the year.

The Cougars will face Texas once again on Sunday, looking for redemption for the Cougars’ 10th win of the year.

Coogs out in force

Though they ultimately lost the match, the overwhelming turnout made it one to remember. Volleyball at UH has traditionally struggled with attendance, but the packed stands at Saturday’s game rivaled the support seen for flagship sports like basketball.

“It was unreal,” said senior libero Kate Georgiades after the game. “It’s everything every girl have ever dreamed of is to play in an atmosphere like that.”

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