June 25, 2010
HOUSTON - Eight opponents that reached the NCAA postseason in 2009 highlight the 2010 University of Houston volleyball schedule that was released Friday by head coach Molly Alvey. Four of those opponents also ranked in the Top 25, and six Conference USA teams ranked in the Top 80 in the 2009 final poll.
"This is the most competitive schedule that I have ever coached in the preseason," Alvey said.
The Cougars open the season at the Texas Invitational, Aug. 27-28, in Austin, Texas. The season begins against TCU and McNeese State on the first day of the tournament, and a match against Texas closes out the weekend. Both Texas and TCU advanced to the 2009 NCAA Championship with the Longhorns falling in the national championship match.
Houston then kicks off its home slate when it hosts the Houston Invitational, Sept. 3-4, at the Athletics/Alumni Center. The three opponents competing in the tournament all advanced to the postseason last year, and they include Oklahoma, Tennessee and Florida State.
"We are excited to play in front of our fans for the first time and host the Houston Invitational," Alvey said. "We plan to fill the stands with fans and put on a good show for them. They will see great competition."
Following the Houston Invitational, Houston heads west for the BYU Molten Classic, Sept. 10-11. The weekend opens against Wichita State and BYU and concludes with Loyola Marymount.
The final non-conference weekend of the season sees the Cougars head to Thibodaux, La., for the Nicholls State Tournament on Sept. 17-18. UH will meet Louisiana Tech and Nicholls State before concluding with Southeastern Louisiana which is the only non-conference opponent that appeared on both the 2009 and 2010 schedules.
"In preparation for this fall, we will discuss the four parts of the season: the preseason, the first half of conference play, the second half of conference play and the postseason," Alvey said. "Our plan is to use the high level of competition we will face in the preseason to develop and grow as a team and prepare for conference play. A great way for a new team to create an identity is to play against the best."
With the 2010 season, C-USA action will see a new format with no postseason tournament. Instead each team will play 20 C-USA matches. With the new format, UH opens league play on Sept. 21 against Rice at the Athletics/Alumni Center. Houston will then play back-to-back matches at Tulane (Sept. 25-26), before returning to Houston for an Oct. 1 match against UCF.
Houston heads to El Paso, Texas, for a match against UTEP on Oct. 3. It will then return to the Athletics/Alumni Center for a weekend meeting with Southern Miss, Oct. 9-10. The Cougars play road matches at Memphis (Oct. 15) and UAB (Oct. 17) before hosting Tulsa and SMU on Oct. 22-23.
The Cougars close out their home slate, Nov. 12 and Nov. 14, when they host East Carolina and Marshall, respectively. The final three matches of the season have UH traveling to SMU (Nov. 19), Tulane (Nov. 21) and Rice (Nov. 27).
The team completed a slate of spring scrimmages in April, playing four matches at UT-Arlington against the Mavericks, North Texas, Oklahoma, and Stephen F. Austin. The Cougars also traveled to TCU and competed against North Texas, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Kansas. UH played a scrimmage at Rice and hosted Sam Houston State.
Houston will report to campus on Aug. 9 and begin practice on Aug. 10.
"The players are very excited for the season to start and they have embraced the program changes very positively," Alvey said. "Our main focus as we gear up for season is to learn to compete together as one entity and grow as leaders on and off the court."
UH returns seniors Amanda Carson and Marluci Toazzi to guide the Cougars in 2010. Carson led the team last season with 481 digs. Her career total of 1,342 career digs rank fifth in the UH career record books. Toazzi finished her first season at UH in 2009 with 144 digs and 242 digs, after transferring from Arizona Western College.