Sports Volleyball

Volleyball looking for first conference win against Memphis

Junior libero Katie Karbo has 345 digs this season across all of Houston’s games. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

After starting the season with a 13-2 record, the Cougars have lost five straight games and sit at the bottom of the American Athletic Conference standings.

After a close 2-3 loss against Temple to start the conference, Houston has fallen with two 1-3 and two 0-3 defeats. The Cougars have a chance to start turning things around against Memphis, which is also 0-5 in the AAC.

The defense has struggled to shut down all the hitting lanes, and the team is No. 9 in the conference in opponent hitting percentage. However, Memphis sits at No. 12 in that category and Houston should be able to improve its low hitting percentage of .091.

On offense, junior Megan Duncan leads the Cougars with 2.9 kills per set while the Tigers are led by sophomore Hannah Flowers, who has scored 3.47 per set, and senior Kelsea Bivins, who has averaged 2.98.

Stopping these aces will be up to the libero and blockers. Junior libero Katie Karbo has led the team’s defense and has the fifth most digs in the conference. She is averaging about 20 digs per conference game. Houston is also averaging two blocks per set, good for No. 7 in the AAC.

Freshman Kendall Haywood leads the team with 1.08 blocks per set, but Memphis has its own strong blockers with senior Kelsey Walter and senior Martina Faietti, who have 1.19 and 1.00 blocks per set, respectively.

The Cougars have an advantage with a more balanced offense with eight different players averaging more than a kill per set while the Tigers have just six.

If Houston can shut down one of Memphis’ top hitters, the game could go in its favor.

It will not be easy, especially since this is the fourth game in Houston’s five-game road trip, but Houston has a chance to snag a conference win Friday at 7 p.m. in Memphis.

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