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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Volleyball

Tulsa, SMU serve as weekend tests


Junior right side hitter Stephanie Nwachukwu and the Cougars look to avoid any late-match meltdowns versus the Golden Hurricane and Mustangs. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

Junior right side hitter Stephanie Nwachukwu and the Cougars look to avoid any late-match meltdowns versus the Golden Hurricane and Mustangs. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

After sweeping their two-game homestand against Southern Mississippi and Tulane last weekend, the Cougars will hit the road today for back-to-back matches against Tulsa and SMU.

UH (10-3, 3-0 Conference USA) currently sports a five-game winning streak, but face the strongest competition of the conference schedule when they take on the No. 1-ranked Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

“This weekend is huge for us,” senior middle blocker Lucy Charuk said. “If we beat them, we’re the team to beat in conference. So we’ve got to come out and play hard, especially since we’re on their home court.

“They’re going to be looking at our scouting report. They know what we do. But they’re going to have to stop us.”

The Cougars impressed with a decisive straight set victory against Rice to open C-USA action, but have recently struggled with lapses in offensive energy.

Though UH closed out Southern Mississippi after five well-contested sets in their conference home opener, Charuk insists they cannot afford to lose momentum or dips in confidence.

“We have to be confident with our game,” she said.

“If we have to make adjustments, then we’ve got to get it done. Against Southern Miss we were forced to make a lot of them, but we pulled it out.”

Like the Cougars, Tulsa enters the matchup riding the momentum of a five-game winning streak and a spotless conference record.

After a brief stop in El Paso to sweep the UTEP Miners in three sets, The Golden Hurricane again picked up a road win against Central Florida to reach 2-0 in C-USA play.

Tulsa was picked to finish first in the AVC Coaches Poll prior to the season.

Though the stakes are high for UH against Tulsa, the Cougars will have to turn around quickly against SMU on Sunday before returning home.

The Mustangs will enter the match with a less-than-stellar 4-10 record, but will provide a strong test for a UH team that has experienced occasional difficulty closing out teams on the road.

“We can’t forget about SMU,” Charuk said. “That’s not a gift. We’ve got to come out knowing people are looking to beat us — knowing that this is the big game in their schedule.”

First serve for the Cougars is set for 7 p.m. at the Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Okla.

UH will play at SMU at 1 p.m. Sunday at Moody Coliseum in Dallas.


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