Cougars rise above Rice
The Cougars (8-3) swept Rice (5-7) Tuesday at Tudor Fieldhouse in three decisive sets (25-19, 26-24, 25-22) for their Conference USA opener.
UH wasted little time before unleashing an offensive barrage on the Owls.
“When we run our offense correctly, it’s very difficult to stop us,” head coach Molly Alvey said.
“There wasn’t one weak link in our attack. We established what we were going to do offensively from the beginning, and it opened up for all our players.”
After battling Rice to an even score at 15 in the first set, the UH offense led by juniors Katie Norris and Stephanie Nwachukwu, caught fire and went on a 10-4 run to close the set.
Norris would finish the match with five digs and a career high of 17 kills.
“We did a really good job of opening up our middle so we could get more kills,” Norris said.
“Having a really balanced offensive like that is going to help in the future, because we know we can go to any of our hitters and they’re going to pull a ball away.”
After edging out the Owls in a closely contested second set at 26-24, Rice showed signs of life to open the third in racing to a 11-7 lead.
Carried by the defensive performance of freshman Natalie Keck, the Cougars quickly fought back to break even at 13-13. With the finish line in sight, UH’s hitting sprang to life once more with senior Lucy Charuk leading the charge.
Keck would close the night tying a career high with 26 digs.
“This was a huge win for us,” Norris said.
“We came in and did our job, and now we’re ready to move forward with conference.”