UH volleyball’s confidence fueled by core leadership group
Down two sets to none in the season-opener, it appeared as if a rocky start to the 2021 season was in store for Houston volleyball.
But the Cougars remained unfazed, filled a poise that is unique to the 2021 team.
“The calmness on the court was far different from anything I’ve ever experienced,” senior middle blocker Isabel Theut said. “There was never any point where we got real tight. We stayed really lose the whole game. We kind of knew. We were like we’re going to win this. There was never any doubt.”
UH volleyball head coach David Rehr saw the same thing, sensing no fear or panic despite the less than ideal start to the opening two sets of the season.
Rehr believes the unshakable confidence the Cougars showed to open the season with stems from a strong group of core leaders. This includes Theut, junior outside hitter Abbie Jackson, junior middle blocker Rachel Tullos and senior libero Torie Frederick.
Over the offseason, this experienced group of leaders took things into their own hands.
From getting the team together putting in extra practice time on the court to hanging out and bonding with each other as much as possible, UH volleyball’s core group of leaders did everything to ensure the chemistry and camaraderie would be up to par when the season started.
“We’re giving them more responsibilities to how to run the team, letting them have more input of how we run the team,” Rehr said. “I think that’s going to be how we are going to get to that next level because of their leadership along with their play.”
All the extra responsibility assumed by the team’s core leaders put the Cougars in a position to overcome any situation they may encounter throughout the year. It immediately came into play in the final three sets of the season-opener.
Not only did the Cougars win three straight sets to complete the comeback against Lipscomb, but they went on to defeat Oregon State and Oklahoma the next day to go 3-0 and win the Oklahoma Invitational —turning what was shaping up to be a complete disaster into as perfect of a start the team could have scripted.
“When your team knows they can come back from something, then they know that they’re always in the fight,” Rehr said. “Especially (when it comes) against an NCAA Tournament team and two Power Five schools. If you can prove yourself against them then you’re going to be fine.”
UH rode its hot start into the next weekend, once again stringing together three straight victories over Mississippi State, McNeese State and Louisiana-Monroe to win the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup and improve to 6-0 on the year.
The successful first two weeks of the season have served as a boost of confidence, as the Cougars proved to themselves they have the capability of overcoming any form of adversity they may face throughout the season.
“I’ve never been on a team that’s been that calm and confident through that much adversity,” Theut said.