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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Volleyball

UH hits the road


Junior Chandace Tryon has broken out in the Cougars last six matches, averaging 12 kills per match since Oct. 8 against East Carolina. | Catherine Lara/The Daily Cougar

Head coach Molly Alvey is aware that the Cougars have a way to go before conference standings are made a priority in team meetings.

UH (16-5, 9-2 Conference USA) inched its way up the C-USA ladder to second place last weekend with back-to-back wins against Memphis and streaking UAB, but with nine matches remaining, Alvey insists there is still plenty of heavy lifting to do.

“The players have all bought into this system start to finish. Our wins have come out of that, and not necessarily our position in conference,” Alvey said.

“It comes down to looking at each individual match versus the big scene — each match is the single-most important item on our agenda. So instead of saying ‘Oh, we’re winning, how do we not lose?’ our mindset is focused on that night’s opponent.”

After dropping two early away matches against Tulsa (19-5, 10-1) and SMU (9-14, 5-6), the Cougars have streaked through their conference schedule, riding the play of middle blockers Chandace Tryon and Lucy Charuk to a six-game winning streak.

UH currently claims the highest hitting percentage per match (.273) against C-USA opponents, but again face strong road tests as they visit Central Florida (13-9, 5-6) and UTEP (16-8, 6-5) for two of their final five away matches.

“We prepare as if it’s a brand new match every time: We get a new scouting report, we watch new film, we make adjustments based on what UCF is doing now, not compared to when we beat them earlier in the season,” Alvey said.

“So we don’t as a staff say, ‘Let’s go get them again.’ The number one importance is beating UTEP — this UTEP, this week.”

This road trip, the Cougars face a Miner team far from the streaking offensive powerhouse they beat two weeks ago. UTEP (16-8, 6-5) has lost three out of four recent matches, with their most recent defeats coming against Rice and a struggling Southern Miss.

With its chances to make a push in C-USA standings narrowing, UTEP will look to rely heavily on sophomore Xitlali Herrera for offensive consistency.

Herrera currently ranks third in blocks per match (1.29) and fifth in overall hitting percentage (.334).

“We have the clientele, we have the offensive, we have the serving and passing,” Alvey said. “But we still have to learn how to control the momentum of every single point, every single game.

“If we learn how to keep that consistency in momentum over the next few weeks, that’s what will put us in the number one position.”

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