Cougars grab second place

Junior Stephanie Nwachukwu was one of four Cougars to rack double-digit kills in UH’s wins against both UAB and Memphis. | Catherine Lara/The Daily Cougar

Chandace Tryon had the breakout weekend the Cougars were waiting for.

The junior middle blocker racked 14 kills on a .478 hitting clip to lead the Cougars to their fifth straight victory Friday at the Athletics/Alumni Center against UAB (25-18, 20-25, 25-15, 25-16).

“Chandace has turned into an animal,” head coach Molly Alvey said. “She’s been working for a while on her arm swing, and putting a lot of time in it. Things are starting to click for her now, and I think she’s figured out her niche on this team and to fill it.”

UH’s (16-5, 9-2 Conference USA) victory against the Blazers (18-5, 8-3 C-USA) broke the two-way tie between the schools for second place in the C-USA standings, and positioned them behind first place Tulsa by a single win.

The Cougars struggled out of the gate, committing 11 hitting errors on 22 attempts to allow the Blazers to race to a 9-5 lead in the first set. A UH timeout briefly steadied the front line, but the erratic hitting continued as UAB took a stranglehold on the set at 20-15.

A potential comeback was disrupted, and UH dropped the set 25-23.

“I don’t think we were super sharp overall tonight,” Alvey said.

“We come out to start the match — 11 kills, 11 errors. Not such a great performance, but we found a way to win — good, bad, superior, horrible, we found a way to win.”

With the first set in the books to UAB, the Cougars started the second determined to right the ship. Houston traded points with the Blazers to a 15-15 tie, but reeled off four answered points to pull ahead.

The Cougars struggled to sustain the lead however, and found themselves down 23-22 with momentum swinging back and forth between teams.

With the set gridlocked at 23-23, senior Lucy Charuk came up with a block to give UH set point, and followed with a kill to finish the set.

“We’re at a totally different place than we were at the beginning of the year,” Alvey said. “This team knows how to win now, and that’s credit to them for pulling together against this really tough opponent.”

With the match tied at a set apiece, UH came alive in the third, finishing on an 11-2 streak to close the set at 25-17.

After dominating through the final set, UH closed the match in four sets, 25-18, 20-25, 25-15, 25-16.

“We knew that we had to come out and finish this, because we won’t have another chance to play these guys,” Tryon said. “My teammates have confidence in me, and that allows to me put balls away and get going. This was a huge victory for us.”

The Cougars followed with another four-set win over Memphis on Sunday for their sixth straight victory.

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