Oct. 10, 2013
HOUSTON - Going into the third week of conference play, the University of Houston volleyball team preps for a two-match road trip beginning with Temple University Friday evening.
The Cougars have started the season strong with a 10-8 overall record and 2-1 in conference, falling to the American Athletic Conference leader Louisville last weekend in three tough sets. Houston looks to continue a resilient conference showing against Temple and Memphis this weekend.
Houston and Temple square off Friday night in Philadelphia, Pa., in the second meeting in school history. The first meeting between the two programs was Sept. 3, 1999 when Houston defeated the Owls in five sets (15-10, 15-12, 7-15, 8-15, 15-12) before rally scoring came into effect.
Temple was a part of the Atlantic-10, a basketball dominant conference, before joining the American Athletic Conference. The team finished 8-6 (5th) in Atlantic-10 and picked to finish 7th in the new conference standings. The Owls return four starters and a libero including top returning right side hitter Gabriella Matautia. The senior has averaged 3.69 kills per set, a .213 hitting percentage, and 2.74 digs per set. She was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week during week two of preseason play.
Temple started the 2013 season 11-4 (2-1, American), defeating Memphis in three and Cincinnati in four. The Owls first loss in conference play came against Louisville in the first week of conference play.
LAST TIME OUT
Houston hosted Cincinnati Friday, Oct. 4, and Louisville for a midday match Sunday, Oct. 6, for the conference home opener.
Bearcats head coach Molly Alvey, former Houston Volleyball head coach, returned to the Athletics/Alumni Center in red, but not on the home side. The Cougars came out strong, easily sweeping Cincinnati in three sets (25-21, 25-13, 25-15).
Freshman Sarita Mikals led the Cougars once again to top the Bearcats as she recorded a .500 hitting average, 12 kills on 24 attempts and only 2 errors. The average marks a season best for the Colleyville native. During the weekend matches, Mikals had double-figure kills against Cincinnati and Louisville marking her eighth consecutive match wtih double-figure kills.
In a tough battle against top conference opponent Louisville, the Cougars dropped in three sets. Houston led for most of the first set until the Cardinals tied up the score at 15 and went on a 10-4 run to defeat the Cougars. In the second set, Houston held on tying up the score eight different times, but fell in extra points on an attacking error by Mikals and a Maya McClendon kill.
Mikals recorded her sixth double double of the season against Louisville with 12 kills and 13 digs. This was the first double double by the freshman in a three-set match.
Houston Volleyball Notables
- Houston recorded its first win at home for the season during the sweep over Cincinnati Friday night. The win comes 11 months after the Cougars last won at home as they swept Southern Miss (11/4/12).
- Freshman Sarita Mikals leads the Cougars in attacks and kills. She sits fourth in conference standings in kills with 226 on the year. She averages 3.48 kills per set.
- Setter Sophie Paine has recorded a total of 671 assists in her first season, and ranks fourth in conference standings. The Australian native averages 10.32 assists per set, less than one assist per set behind the leading setter.
- Houston Volleyball tops the serve-receive category among conference rivals. The Cougars have only allowed 55 aces in 66 sets (0.83/per set).
- The Cougars begin the 2013 season with a 202 RPI, eighth best among conference members. Houston closed out the 2012 season with a 217 RPI.
Following Friday's match, the Cougars travel to Memphis, Tenn. Sunday to meet former C-USA opponent, University of Memphis, once again. Houston leads the all-time series 23-9. Last season, the Tigers fell to visiting Houston in four sets on Sept. 23, 2012. Memphis finished the season 12-19 (7-9, C-USA) tied for seventh place with Houston.
The Tigers returned only three starters this season and welcomed six newcomers. Freshman Catlin Lilly has been Memphis' standout this season. She is the Tigers leading scorer (213.5 points) and leads the team with 197 kills and 131 digs. She is the third best blocker for Memphis, with 22.0 total blocks (3-19).
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