Houston breaks even over weekend

The UH volleyball team split a pair of home matches after beating East Carolina on Friday and falling to Conference USA-leaders Marshall on Sunday at the Athletics/Alumni Center.

The Cougars (12-11, 7-5 C-USA) continued their less-than-stellar play Sunday at home, when they lost to Marshall (27-30, 24-30, 24, 30).

UH has lost three matches at home the entire season and two have been on a Sunday.

"It seems like we can’t maintain the same focus," said head coach Bill Walton. "On Friday nights we play much better, but we’re going to stop talking about it and just play better."

After coming up short in the first two games, Houston knew it would be tough to recover.

Junior outside hitter Justine Farmer did her best to stage a comeback with eight kills in the third and final game, but Marshall (18-8, 11-1 C-USA) and the arm of senior outside hitter Kelly-Anne Billingy were too much to overcome.

Billingy had a team-high at 17 kills to go along with six digs.

Marshall senior outside hitter Stephanie Cahill also paid dividends with 16 digs and 11 kills.

Farmer led all players with 20 kills and junior setter Kelsey King contributed with 28 assists.

"The first two games we executed and followed the game plan, but our intensity didn’t seem to be there in the third game," King said.

The Cougars probably wish every home match could be played on a Friday as they improved to 4-1 this season.

East Carolina (12-14, 3-8 C-USA) was their latest victim, as UH had little trouble putting down the Pirates (30-21, 30-28, 32-34, 30-23).

UH had a chance to put the match away in game three, but the pesky Pirates took a 32-34 game that consisted of 19 ties and 12 lead changes.

The Cougars had no plans of letting ECU force a game five, and sophomore outsider hitters Ashley Calhoun and Kinsey Cave would make sure of it.

Cave recorded a season-high of 10 kills in her effort against the Pirates.

Calhoun was big for the Cougars in the fourth game when she recorded six of her eight kills in the match.

Farmer and freshman outside hitter Hannah Sullivan both completed double-doubles for the Cougars.

Farmer had 28 kills and 24 digs while Sullivan had 19 digs to go along with 16 kills.

The Cougars will now have a week to prepare for their next pair of conference opponents, Texas-El Paso and Tulane, on the road this weekend.

"The kids will continue to work hard in practice – as long as we do that, we’ll be OK." Walton said.

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