HOUSTON -- The University of Houston Volleyball team led 2-0 but was unable to hold on in a 3-2 (25-13, 25-16, 23-25, 24-26, 10-15) to ECU on Friday night inside Athletics/Alumni Center.
With the decision, the Cougars fall to 10-15 on the season and 6-11 in American Athletic Conference play, while the Pirates improve to 20-10 overall and 11-6 in league action.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Houston set the tone early, jumping out to a 10-2 lead in the opening set. The Cougars never trailed and hit a season-best .600 attack percentage in a 25-13 victory.
Tied 8-8 in the second set, Houston used an 8-0 run, highlighted by a pair of kills from seniors Brianna Gardner and Brianna Lynch, to take a 14-8 advantage. The Cougars built their lead to as many as nine points en route to a 25-16 win and 2-0 lead at intermission.
ECU rallied out of the break and led late into the third set. With Houston trailing 20-17, the Cougars used a 4-1 surge to take their first lead in the stanza at 22-21. Unfortunately, the Pirates flipped the script with a 4-1 surge of their own to take a 25-23 decision.
Houston responded with a 6-1 run, highlighted by consecutive service aces from senior outside hitter Sarah Aflerbaugh, to open the fourth set. However, ECU doubled the Cougars offense, 10-5, to even the match at 11-all. Both teams then traded rallies to 24-24 before a Pirate kill and Houston error gave ECU the set, 26-24.
In the fifth set, the Pirates never trailed on their way to a 15-10 decision to seal the 3-2 final.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
The Cougars finished with a conference-record 15 service aces. The previous best was 14, set by Houston in 3-2 loss against USF on Nov. 1, 2015, inside Athletics/Alumni Center.
Afflerbaugh finished with a career-high six service aces. Her six aces tie for the third highest recorded in a match in program history, tying Cecilia Blias (vs. Baylor, Oct. 30, 1986), Gretchen Klug (vs. Texas Southern, Sept. 9, 1987) and Nicole Gunsaulus (vs. Texas A&M, Oct. 5, 1990). She also finished with 10 digs.
Sophomore libero Katie Karbo tallied 25 digs on the back row to eclipse 1,000 career digs with 1,003.
With nine assists, senior setter Keandra McCardell passed the 3,000-career assist plateau. McCardell has 3,002 assists.
Lynch led Houston with 16 kills, her 12th time to lead the team on the season.
Gardner finished with 11 kills, a career-high five aces and three blocks (one solo, two assisted).
Sophomore outside hitter Megan Duncan finished with nine kills and three blocks (one solo, two assisted), while redshirt junior middle blocker Chenelle Walker totaled five kills and four blocks (one solo, three assisted).
Freshman setter Abby Irvine just missed a double-double with 28 assists and nine digs.
ECU outhit Houston, .189-.185.
The Cougars will continue play in The American with 1 p.m. first serve against Cincinnati on Sunday. The match will serve as "Alumni Day" for Houston Volleyball, and all former letterwinners in attendance will be recognized on the court at intermission.
The Houston Athletics Ticket Office is once again proud to offer the Shasta Pass for the 2017-18 season. For just $80, Cougar fans can purchase one Shasta Pass, which allows season-long general admission entrance to all Houston Volleyball, Soccer, Women's Basketball and Softball home games.
The Shasta Pass offers Houston fans a substantial saving as single-game tickets start at $5 for all four sports. To purchase a Shasta Pass, call 713-GO-COOGS or Click Here.
JOIN POINT HOUSTON CLUB
Fans can help support the Houston Volleyball program by joining the Point HOUSTON Club. To find out more information about the Point HOUSTON Club, visit UHCougars.com or call Cougar Pride at (713) 743-GoUH.