HOUSTON -- The University of Houston volleyball team handed Conference USA leader Marshall its first loss during the month of October as the Cougars rolled to a 3-1 victory over the Thundering Herd in league play on Sunday afternoon at the Athletics/Alumni Center.
With the win, Houston has now won two straight and swept the weekend, while posting four wins in the last five league contests. The Cougars improved to 5-4 in C-USA play and 6-13 overall, while Marshall fell to 16-6 and 6-2.
Houston gained an early advantage with a set one win and went on to play consistent volleyball to give the Thundering Herd its first loss since a 3-0 fall at Tulsa on Sept. 21. Until today, Marshall had won the last five league games.
The Cougars used a dominating effort across the board to out hit, out defend, and out block the Thundering Herd. Led by three players with double-digit kills and a solid .261 attacking percentage as a team.
Senior Chandace Tryon paced the offensive attack with 16 kills, followed by senior Katie Norris and freshman Emily Howard with 15 and 10 kills, respectively. Howard posted a career-best with her 10 kills, surpassing her previous high of eight, which came twice and last against Tulsa on Sept. 28. Freshman Shelby Vance and senior Stephanie Nwachukwu also played strong around the net with eight kills each.
Senior setter Abby Simmons had a match-high 52 assists and produced a .390 set percentage to accompany a service ace, while teammate Natalie Keck totaled two aces on the day.
Defensively, Houston made 82 digs, led by Keck's career-best 30, surpassing her previous high of 26, which came last against Appalachian State on Aug. 31, 2012. Also totaling a career-high was junior Meredith Ware with 17 digs, followed by Simmons and O'Dell with 11 each. Simmons went on to notch her eighth double-double of the season.
Houston posted another solid outing on the blocking end with 16 block assists, led by Tryon and Howard with four each. Nwachukwu and Norris each added three.
HOUSTON 3, MARSHALL 1
SET 1: Houston 25, Marshall 22 Three straight kills by Norris and Tryon and a block assist by Howard and Norris put the Cougars up 6-4 after being down 4-2 to open the set. Houston went on to extend its set lead to a 9-5 advantage following a kill by Howard and a Marshall attacking error. Keeping it close, the Thundering Herd used a 3-1 run to narrow Houston's lead to one at 14-13 until Norris blasted a kill deep in the right corner for a two-point advantage. A long rally broke up a 16-16 tie midway through the set when Nwachukwu recorded a kill. Late in the set, Vance provided the Cougars with some offensive spark with three kills that accompanied a Tryon kill and a Keck ace for four straight points and a lead at 22-19. Back-to-back kills by Marshall's Laura Der made it a 23-22 game in favor of Houston. An attacking error and a final kill by Norris sealed a first-set win for the Cougars.
SET 2: Marshall 25, Houston 21 Marshall used a 5-1 run to go up 10-6 in the early going, but Nwachukwu's kill ended the run. Houston took advantage of several Marshall errors and a huge block assist by Norris and Howard to make it a one-point game at 13-12. Houston went on to score four unanswered points, including a service ace by Simmons, to take its first lead of the set at 14-13. A tied game at 15-15, Marshall gained ground with three Houston attacking errors and back-to-back kills for a 5-1 run and a 19-16 lead. The Thundering Herd extended their lead to 22-17 with two more Houston miscues, but Tryon kept the set interesting with kills on three consecutive Houston points. Simmons and Norris tallied kills to make it a 24-21 game, but the Thundering Herd would even the match following a final Houston error.
SET 3: Houston 25, Marshall 21 A kill by Howard and an ace by Norris put Houston up 9-6. After Marshall recorded back-to-back points, Norris got a feed from a Marshall ball to post a strong kill along the middle of the court to extend Houston's lead to 14-12. Howard and Norris remained solid around the net and continued to build on the Cougars' lead for a 17-13 advantage. A 3-1 run by the Thundering Herd kept the set close, but a Tryon kill but the Cougars up 22-18. Simmons' used a sneaky kill and Norris followed with another successful attack to set up match-point for Houston, which ended on another Norris kill to give the Cougars a 2-1 match lead.
SET 4: Houston 25, Marshall 23 Three unanswered points by Houston put the Cougars up 4-1. Vance and Tryon produced kills, while Tryon's ace gave Houston an 8-4 lead. Back-to-back block assists by Howard and Nwachukwu kept Houston to top at 11-8. The Cougars then went on to extend its lead to 16-12 with kills by Nwachukwu, Howard, and Tryon. Houston remained strong along the net with late kills by Vance and Tryon for a 21-19 lead. Marshall picked up a point on a Houston error, but the Cougars responded with a block assist by Tryon and Vance to gain another point on the Thundering Herd. Three attacking errors by Marshall and a kill by Norris sealed the win for Houston.
POST-GAME QUOTES Head Coach Kaddie Platt Thoughts on the game "We came out prepared, we did a great job of battling to get the win."
Mindset going into today "It was a good opportunity for us to move up in our conference rankings and we took advantage of that."
Chandace Tryon Thoughts on the game "We did a good job today, we fought all game long and came out with the win. I'm very proud of the team."
Mindset going into today "We knew Marshall was tied for first and it was a very important game for us. We try to go game-by-game and beating them would put us where we wanted to be."
Abby Simmons Thoughts on the game "It was a good team win for us. We've been practicing really hard, and it was great to see that translate into the game today."
On giving Marshall their conference first loss since Sept. 21 "They were at the top of the conference and we knew that by beating them we would move up in the rankings and help us get closer to where we want to be."
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UP NEXT Houston will hit the road for two straight Conference USA matches, meeting UTEP on Friday at 8 p.m. and Tulane at 1 pm. Sunday.