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Looking back: Volleyball’s top 5 performances of 2019

Despite the strong performances during the 2019 season, Houston's volleyball team had a rocky beginning to the year as it opened up the campaign on a four-game losing streak before turning the tides. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Despite the strong performances during the 2019 season, Houston’s volleyball team had a rocky beginning to the year as it opened up the campaign on a four-match losing streak before turning the tides. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The 2019 season for Houston’s volleyball team was supposed to be a year of transition, and in many ways it was, the process, however, was on an accelerated pace that changed the expectations from a slow build to a win-now mode heading into 2020.

From individual honors to historic wins, here are Houston’s top five moments from the 2019 season:

David Rehr wins American Coach of the Year

Head coach David Rehr was named the American Athletic Coach of the Year after Houston earned its most conference wins since 2013.

Despite having just one season in Houston under his belt, Rehr has already changed the direction of the Cougars’ volleyball team.

Houston embarked its conference matches on a seven-match win streak, starting off a perfect 7-0 against AAC opponents, the program’s best start since 2000, lifting the team to a high seed in the postseason conference tournament.

The Cougars went on to finish conference play with a record of 10-6, its best since joining in 2013 and capped off the season with an overall record of 16-15, which was a six-win increase from 2018.

Houston’s strong season exceeded expectations. In the preseason polls, the Cougars were picked to finish tenth in the AAC, but ended the year as the No. 4 seed.

Rehr became the third head coach in program history to be awarded the title and was the first since 1994.

Katie Karbo crushes AAC record

Senior libero Katie Karbo consistently anchored Houston’s defense during her time with the program and 2019 was no exception.

Entering a November matchup against SMU, an AAC record was just five digs away for Karbo, which she clinched during the second set of the contest.

And she did not stop there.

By the end of the match, Karbo recorded 15 digs to tally a career total of 2,389.

Karbo also helped the team set a conference season-high of 58 digs in just three sets against the Mustangs.

Rachel Tullos throws block party

Freshman middle blocker Rachel Tullos has proven herself to be a force to be reckoned with at the net, which was recognized with a spot in the All-AAC Second team.

One of her best performances of 2019 came in an October showdown against Cincinnati.

Tullos was locked in defensively against the Bearcats as she set a conference record with 17 blocks in one match.

In addition to smashing the AAC record for the number of blocks in a five-set contest, Tullos also surpassed all Division-I players in the number of blocks posted in a single matxh in 2019.

Tullos was just the fourth Division-I player to reach 17 blocks in a single contest and was the first player since 2014 to do so.

Houston reaches 1,000th program win

The Cougars secured their 1,000th program victory and 10th conference win of the season against the Memphis Tigers back on Nov. 15.

Houston won the historic match behind strong performances from senior outside hitter Megan Duncan and sophomore middle blocker Isabel Theut, who had 11 and nine kills respectively.

Karbo recorded 17 digs, which set her up to break the AAC record the following contest against the Mustangs and senior outside hitter Claire Karsten was right behind her with 15.

Tullos had one of her strong defensive outings, recording 12 blocks in this contest and added in 11 kills of her own.

The Cougars won this match in four sets, which set up an important battle for a high seed against the Mustangs in the regular-season finale.

Cougars end 19-Year postseason drought

When reflecting on the standout moments of UH athletics this past season, it is impossible to miss the program’s return to the postseason for the first time since 2000.

After finishing above .500 in the regular season, the team accepted a bid to the 2019 National Invitational Volleyball Championship.

While the team was defeated in its first contest, reaching a postseason tournament gave the team a taste of what the expectations are going forward.

Rehr has said that the goal going forward is to compete in postseason tournaments every year. While the NIVC is a good start, the program now has its eyes set on reaching th NCAA tournament.

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