Preview: Houston Volleyball Hosts UConn, Rutgers This Weekend

Houston Volleyball looks to add two wins in conference play as they host UConn and Rutgers this weekend.

Oct. 29, 2013

HOUSTON - With a week between conference matches, the University of Houston volleyball team will be back in action this weekend to host Connecticut and Rutgers at the Athletics/Alumni Center. 

The Cougars are set to play UConn at 7 p.m. Friday. The Huskies (11-13) have only won two of their nine conference games, defeating Rutgers and Cincinnati. During preseason, UConn was picked to finish third in the American and is now third from last. The team has a 1-6 record when traveling. Connecticut picked up its first win in American league play in its most recent contest, a 3-1 victory over Rutgers on Oct. 11.

Rutgers travels to SMU Friday before arriving in Houston for a 1 p.m. match on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights enter the match on a nine-match skid and is winless against conference opponents. Rutgers has won only four of the 23 matches this season, the last win coming Sept. 21 against Cornell. Cincinnati gained its first win of the season in a five-set match against Rutgers last weekend.

Friday, Nov. 1, 7 p.m. - vs. UConn: GameTracker | All-Access
Sunday, Nov. 3, 1 p.m. - vs. Rutgers: GameTracker | All-Access

A season best defensive showing by Houston volleyball wasn't enough as they fell to in-state rival SMU in four tough sets (24-26, 21-25, 25-14, 13-25) Friday evening at the Dedman Center.

The Cougars (13-11, 5-4) outplayed SMU (14-8, 6-3) in almost every category in the four sets. Houston outhit the Mustangs .159 to .148 and forced more attacking errors by the host team. Defensively, the Cougars had eight more digs and four more team blocks than SMU. 



The Mustangs took a 2-0 advantage going into intermission, motivating Houston to come out strong in the third set. The Cougars hit .286 while forcing SMU to commit as many errors as kills.  The team defense blew SMU out of the water as they took the third set, 25-14. Houston couldn't hold on and the Mustangs won the fourth set to take the match.

Junior middle blocker Kaiti Waters had another star-studded night for the Cougar defense. She recorded 13 total blocks and six kills, hitting .312 at the net. Kadi Kullerkann led the Houston offense with 11 kills and six blocks, hitting .381.

Defense has been the key to success for Houston Volleyball wins in several matches this season. The team is second in the conference for kills allowed by opponents. The Cougars have only allowed 1015 kills (11.28 per set), just behind SMU (917 / 11.18 per set).

Houston has the best serve receive percentage in the conference, posting a .954 average, and allowing only 81 aces. Junior libero Natalie Keck leads the Cougar back row defense with 367 digs this season, 1270 career. Last season, Keck recorded 314 in the first 23 matches. She sits third in all-time career leaders averaging 4.08 digs per set.

The Cougars lead the series 1-0. The teams last met during the first weekend in the American Athletic Conference when Houston pulled out a win in five sets on Sept. 29, 2013. The match was also the first meeting between the two schools.

During their last meeting, Houston led the Huskies 2-0 going into intermission. UConn tied up the match with wins in sets three and four to force a decisive fifth set. The Cougars had 82 digs as a team and nine service aces against UConn.

Houston leads the series 2-0 after sweeping the Scarlet Knights in the first American match of the season. The two teams first meeting was in 1984. The Cougars earned their first conference win on the road in New Brunswick, N.J.

In the first meeting this season, the Cougars hit .296 against the Scarlet Knights; good for the third best this season. Middle blocker Emily Howard was unstoppable at the net, hitting a season best .647 (12-1-17).


  • The Cougars recorded a season-high of 17.0 team blocks (1-32) against SMU. The last time Houston recorded 17.0 blocks against a team was in 2006 against UTEP.
  • Houston outplayed SMU in every category during the four-set match Friday. It was the first time this season the Cougars led in Kills, Hitting Percentage and Digs that ended in a loss.
  • Middle blocker Kaiti Waters matched her total blocks from last week in one match against SMU (13). She also recorded six kills, hitting .312.
  • Houston tops the American Athletic Conference in aces per set. The Cougars are now ranked 58th among NCAA Division I schools with 1.44 aces per set.


Houston continues conference play next weekend as the team travels to Louisville for a 6 p.m. match Friday and a match at Cincinnati Sunday at Noon. 

Follow Houston Volleyball on Twitter @UHCougarVB and "Like" /HoustonCougarVolleyball on Facebook. Houston Volleyball is now on Istagram as well, UHCougarVB.

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