Nov. 21, 2013
HOUSTON - With just three more matches in the American Athletic Conference play, the University of Houston volleyball team travels to Florida for the final road series this weekend.
The Cougars (17-13, 9-6) take over Tampa, Fla., as they face South Florida (15-13, 9-5) Friday at 6 p.m. CT.
South Florida has one of the best defenses in the conference this season. As a team, the Bulls rank 33rd in the nation with 2.67 blocks per set. Middle blocker Andrea Rodriguez Gomez is in the top 15 in the nation, averaging 1.47 blocks per set. In the back row defense, the Bulls are second in the conference with 16.67 digs per set, ranking 33rd in the nation.
On Offense, sophomore hitter Erica Fairs leads the team in kills per set and points per set. She ranks 66th in the nation with 3.71 kills per set and 67th nationally with 4.29 points per set.
In their last meeting, the Bulls defeated Houston at home in four sets in the first matchup of the new conference. USF is former members of the Big East and once apart of C-USA. Houston leads the all-time series 11-8.
Houston travels to Orlando, Fla., for a Sunday matchup against UCF (19-8, 10-4) at 1 p.m. CT.
The UCF Knights rank in the top 100 nationally in almost every category. The team is 57th in Assists Per Set (12.76), 61st in Blocks Per Set (2.48), 78th in Digs Per Set (15.78), 60th in Hitting Percentage (.240), 73rd in Kills Per Set (13.51) and 58th in Match W-L Pctg. (.704). Individually, setter Marie Reiterova is ranked 12th in the nation with 11.5 assists per set and hitter Delaina Sarden is 25th nationally with a .403 hitting percentage.
Former C-USA rivals Houston and UCF meet up for the final head-to-head of the season. The last meeting resulted in a Houston 3-0 sweep over the Knights. The Cougars are 9-3 in the all-time series record and are looking to add another win on the road.
LAST TIME OUT
Houston had a strong hitting performance during set two of the Memphis match, but it wasn't enough as the Cougars fell to Memphis in three sets.
Houston started the match strong with an 8-3 lead in the first set. Memphis took the lead with an 8-2 run after regrouping in a timeout and ended up taking the set, 25-18. The Cougars never recovered and dropped both second and third set.
Memphis couldn't stop the Cougars attack from the middle. Emily Howard led the team with eight kills on 13 attempts, hitting .615, her second best hitting percentage of the season. All three middle blockers hit .500 collectively against Memphis.
Houston took the easy 1-2-3 sweep over Temple Sunday afternoon with a blocking party by all Cougars frontline of defense.
The Cougars (17-13, 9-6) came out early in the first set, holding the Owls (17-9, 8-6) to a .000 hitting average. Houston blocking was key to the win as Houston recorded five team blocks (1-8) in the first set alone.
Temple quickly responded in set two, as they took the lead and never gave it up. Seven Cougar hitting errors and a .303 performance by the Owls tied the match at 1-1 into intermission.
The Cougars took the final two sets of the match after intermission. They held the Owls to .039 in the final set, forcing 10 errors.
- This is Houston's third consecutive week to receive recognition from the American Athletic Conference. Since week seven of the season, the Cougars have received five honor roll selections and two freshman of the week awards. Houston has received an accolade in Week 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12. Houston missed a week after losing to SMU.
- The loss against Memphis marks the first time since Nov. 18, 2006 that Houston fell to the Tigers at home. It was only the fourth time Memphis has won in Houston.
- Freshman Sarita Mikals recorded 22 kills (3.14 k/s) hitting .227 against the weekend rivals. The outside hitter also had 11 digs two aces and six blocks. Cortney Warren had a good weekend hitting .250 with 19 kills and six blocks.
- Middles Kaiti Waters, Emily Howard, Courtney Smith and Hunter Wise were key to Houston's offensive tactic last weekend as the centers hit .230 at the net (16-7-57). Emily Howard entered the Memphis match during set two and recorded a .700 hitting average against the Tigers. The middles also had a strong defensive block against both teams with 19 block assists and two solo blocks while scoring 32.5 points for the Cougars.
- Junior Libero Natalie Keck averaged 5.86 digs per set with 41 total blocks on the weekend. She recorded a season high 29 digs against Temple, jumping to 486 total blocks on the year. She is just 14 digs away from her 500th and is on track to pick them up before years end. Keck was named to the American weekly honor roll for her performance over the weekend.
- Houston tops the American Athletic Conference in aces per set. The Cougars are now ranked 56th among NCAA Division I schools with 1.44 aces per set.
Houston returns home for its final conference match against in-state rival SMU Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 5 p.m. The teams have moved up the time due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
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