Cougars battle, extend win streak
The Cougars managed to close out their two-game home stand this weekend with back-to-back victories against Southern Mississippi and Tulane to push their winning streak to five games.
UH (10-3, 3-0 Conference USA) battled the Golden Eagles (6-8, 0-2) at the Athletics/Alumni Center Friday through five back-and-forth sets (22-25, 25-21, 25-11, 18-25, 15-13).
“It absolutely wasn’t the best volleyball this team has ever played, but we really came together as a team and found a way to pull it out tonight,” junior Stephanie Nwachukwu said.
The Cougars fell in the first set after digging themselves into a ten-point hole, but took the second set as UH’s hitters took advantage of the Golden Eagles’ inconsistencies on defense.
Led on offense by Nwachukwu and outside hitter Katie Norris, UH would claim the second and third sets, and looked to have a stranglehold on the match.
Norris would finish the night with a career-high 18 kills.
Hitting errors plagued UH as it lost momentum in the fourth set and fell behind early again, falling to Southern Miss 18-25 and forcing a fifth set.
The Cougars struggled early in the fifth, falling behind at 3-6 before head coach Molly Alvey called her first timeout to regroup her hitters. Afterward, UH traded points with the Golden Eagles to reach a 12-12 tie.
Needing a strong server, Alvey called on sparingly-used junior Ashley Applequist to deliver much-needed points with the match deadlocked at 13.
Applequist laid in key service deliveries to Southern Miss. to set the Cougars in position for the go-ahead point at 14-13 and again to claim the match at 15-13.
“Ashley came in with a very difficult role, in a pressure situation in set five and essentially won the match for us,” Alvey said.
“We were in a situation where we needed to serve to win, and she did that wonderfully. She was unbelievable.”
Against Tulane (5-8, 0-2) on Sunday, UH appeared to quickly revert to Friday’s error-prone play from of the tip.
The Cougars trailed 9-14, eventually dropping the set 20-25, but showed signs of life late.
With the rocky start behind them, the UH offense took control of the match in the second set, racing to an 18-11 lead.