Nov. 23, 2011
HOUSTON - Behind a career-high 16 kills from junior Stephanie Nwachukwu, the University of Houston volleyball team defeated Rice, 3-2 (25-22, 25-21, 21-25, 20-25, 16-14), Wednesday night in its season finale at the Athletics/Alumni Center. The Cougars finish the 2011 season with a 19-11 record and a 12-8 mark in Conference USA play.
Since Rice joined C-USA in 2005, it is the first time the Cougars have swept the series with their cross-town rival. Houston is now 60-18 all-time against the Owls.
"This is an incredible win," head coach Molly Alvey said. "It is a great way for the seniors to go out on a high note. It was also a win against Rice, which is great for the athletic department and the University. Those things make a statement.
"Rice played great tonight, so it was a real important win. We played a very consistent volleyball match from start to finish. We had a point run in set three that cost us that set, but we were able to pull back together, stay in it through the end and pull out the win."
In addition to Nwachukwu's career night, junior Chandace Tryon finished with 15 kills and junior Katie Norris had 12 kills. Senior Lucy Charuk finished 12 kills and had five solo blocks, the third most in UH single game history. Senior Ingrida Zauere also played her final match at the AAC and finished with 10 kills and 21 digs.
The Cougars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the match, but the Owls battled back to tie the contest, forcing a fifth set where Houston came out on top, 16-14.
Houston began the night playing to a 16-12 lead in the first set. After a Rice timeout, the Cougars came off the bench to push their lead to 19-16, prompting a second Owls timeout. Following the second timeout, UH committed two quick errors and Alvey was forced to call a timeout. The break proved effective as the Cougars came out of the timeout to win the first set 25-22.
Rice opened the second set to a 3-0 lead, but Houston battled back to tie the score 6-6. The Cougars took the lead on the next point and never looked back. The Owls got within one of Houston, 14-13, but UH pulled away and took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-21 win.
After two sets, Nwachukwu led the team with nine kills and the Cougars hit a combined .351.
Houston opened the third set to an 11-9 lead, but the Owls battled back to tie the score 12-12 before taking the lead on the next play. Rice held a 15-12 lead into a Cougar timeout and came off the bench to win the third set, 25-21.
Rice used the momentum from the third set to open the fourth to an 8-4 lead. The Cougars got within one of the lead, 11-10, but the Owls held off the Cougars to even the match, 2-2, with a 25-20 win.
The fifth set turned into a battle between the two teams as they traded points the entire way. Rice took a 14-13 lead to match point but three-straight kills from Tryon gave Houston the 16-14 win.