Oct. 13, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The first meeting in the new conference ended sweetly for the University of Houston volleyball team as they battled to defeat the University of Memphis in five sets (25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 9-25, 16-14) Sunday afternoon.
Former Conference USA opponents, Houston (11-9, 4-2) stretched its series lead to 24-9 over the Tigers (9-9, 1-4).
"We had a great defensive showing especially with blocking," head coach Kaddie Platt said. "Having that defense at the net really helped us with our digs as well."
Both teams started off strong in the match, battling point-for-point in the first three sets. The Cougars took set one, 25-23, forcing Memphis to give up seven points on errors. Outside hitter Kadi Kullerkann led the Cougars offense, hitting .800 (4-0-5). Middle Kaiti Waters stepped in as well adding 6.5 points with three kills and three blocks.
Memphis tied the match 1-1 just before intermission with a 25-23 win, but Houston responded with a 25-20 advantage to take control of the match, 2-1.
In the fourth set, the Tigers started out with a 7-3 lead and forced Houston to use its first timeout. A 5-0 run with three Sydni Etheredge kills stretched Memphis' lead to 12-4, forcing another Houston timeout. The Tigers ran away with the set holding Houston to just nine points. This was the first time this season the Cougars scored less than 10 points in a set.
"[Memphis] had a well formulated defensive plan against our outsides, but we just have to adjust and take advantage of those holes when they focus on our outsides," Platt said.
Memphis showed its determination in the fifth set by taking a 5-2 lead and forced Houston to a timeout. The Cougars battled with Memphis tying the score five times before taking the lead with the last two points of the match. Houston sealed the win on a 5-0 run.
The Cougars blocked out Memphis with 14.0 total blocks, a season high for Houston.
Kullerkann finished the match with 17 kills (.300 hitting percentage) and three blocks. Junior Cortney Warren added 12 kills and four blocks to the win.
Defensively, Libero Natalie Keck led Houston with 22 digs while freshman Sarita Mikals helped in the back row, digging out 19 balls for the Cougars. Waters put up a very strong defense at the net, recording a career high 10 blocks.
Freshman Avalon Frantz appeared in her first match as the Cougars starting setter. She recorded 23 assists, a season and career high for the freshman. She and sophomore Sophie Paine switched in and out for each other throughout the match.
"Avalon did a great job stepping in; didn't skip a beat," Platt said. "She works hard at practice to be ready to fill in at anytime and she has shown that."
The Cougars return to Houston for a day off before returning to the road. Houston travels to Prairie View, Texas, for a non-conference match against Prairie View A&M Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Cougars continue conference play as they host UCF Friday at 7 p.m. and USF Sunday at 1 p.m.
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