Aug. 26, 2011
Houston - Juniors Katie Norris and Stephanie Nwachukwu combined for 22 kills to guide the University of Houston volleyball team to a 3-0 sweep of the Lipscomb Bison Friday night in their 2011 season opener at the Athletics/Alumni Center.
After starting the season off on the right foot, head coach Molly Alvey was impressed with her team's debut.
"It definitely feels good to get the win," Alvey said. "You spend three weeks playing against yourself so you don't really have a feel for who you are, but this game gave us a clear gauge to what we're doing well and what we need to do better."
Despite earning the win, the Houston struggled in the early going of the match. The Bison jumped out to 5-0 lead but UH was able to battle back and tie the score, 8-8. The Cougars regained the lead forcing a timeout from the Lipscomb bench. Out of the break, the Bison would come back to tie the set, 19-19, but the Cougars kept their composure and regained the lead on the next point before winning the set, 25-22.
Nwachukwu led the Cougars with four kills in the opening set, while Norris and senior Lucy Charuk added three kills.
The second set proved to be a tough one for the Cougars as they played from behind most of the way. It wasn't until UH went on a 4-0 run late in the set, highlighted by four-straight Cougar kills, that they were able to pull back within striking distance. Lipscomb would call a timeout, leading 21-20, to try and regroup, but the Cougars would come off the bench and tie the set, 22-22, before earning a 25-23 win.
In the second set, Norris and Charuk tallied four kills each and Nwachukwu finished with three.
The Cougars would leave nothing to chance in their final set. After playing two close sets with Lipscomb to open the match, Houston rallied to an 18-8 lead and never looked back. They tallied 16 kills and sailed to a 25-14 win.
Alvey was impressed with how her team was able to rally in the third set and overcome their slow start.
""We talk a lot about the mental side of the game," Alvey said. "Early in the match, we gave away too many point runs so to see the team regroup and come away with the win is a good thing. We just need to figure out how to make those adjustments sooner without giving away so many points."
Houston will have a chance to work on those adjustments when they continue play at the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup at noon, Saturday against Xavier. They will close out tournament play with a 7 p.m. match against Central Arkansas.