Israelis foil Cougars’ comeback attempt
The Cougars rallied back from two sets down and almost upset the Israeli National Team in an exhibition match at the Athletics/Alumni Center Wednesday.
The packed crowd and prospective elite competition rattled the Cougars at the outset of the match.
Head coach Molly Alvey focused the Cougars after they dropped the first two sets 25-23 and 25-22.
“I very calmly and collectedly told them, ‘We’re here to play volleyball. We’re here to have fun and we need to decide right now before we leave this locker room that we’re going to win,” Alvey said.
UH came out of the break energized and won the next two sets decisively, 25-10 and 25-13, but fell 15-10 in the deciding fifth set.
“Sets three, four and five were great. I think after our nerves settled a little and we relaxed and realized that it wasn’t going to be as difficult as we thought it was. I thought it was fantastic. We picked up our serving. I think that changed quite a bit. The atmosphere was great. Our fans were great. It was a packed house. Experience-wise it was unbelievable.”
Two Cougars, seniors Ingrida Zauere and Lucy Charuk, have experience playing internationally and tried to impart some of the differences in the style of play to their teammates.
“Most of the girls have never played in any kind of international match,” Charuk said. “It was very exciting for them.”
The biggest difference for Alvey was preparing UH for the skill level of the Israelis.
“They have some pretty experienced older players,” she said. “The more skilled you get in volleyball, no matter physically how you match up, the skill players can beat you any day.”
Alvey felt that the Cougars’ serving improved dramatically as the match progressed, and she felt the team learned much from the match.
“There’s no doubt, we 100 percent got better tonight,” Alvey said. “I actually saw us picking up a few tendencies of what they were doing. Just playing a little smarter volleyball, taking smart shots instead of trying to crush it. Serving-wise, we no doubt got better tonight. We’ll take a little bit of those things and move them forward this week. We already leave tomorrow, so we have to get ready.”
Former US coach returns
The match was also a homecoming of sorts for Israeli head coach Arie Selinger.
As the head coach of the US National Team from 1975-84, Selinger’s squads practiced at the University in 1980 and 1984. Those teams featured former UH head coach Ruth Nelson and former players Flo Hyman, Rita Crockett and Rose Magers.
“I have some good memories and some players that played for me,” Selinger said.
“It brings some good memories back.”