The Bearcats welcomed the No. 23 Houston Cougars into Fifth Third Arena on Friday, Nov. 4, hoping to end their two-game losing streak. Unfortunately, Cincinnati would fall 3-0. The Cats have now faced three top 25 teams this season, No. 10 Pittsburgh, No. 7 BYU, and No. 23 Houston. They haven’t been able to escape with a win against any of these top tier squads.
The Bearcats have one more ranked opponent waiting ahead on their schedule, No. 25, University of Central Florida (UCF) on Sunday, Nov. 13. UC (University of Cincinnati) will look to garner its first win against a ranked opponent in that clash against UCF.
Houston arrived in Clifton riding a 15-game win streak and an undefeated American Athletic Conference record, 13-0, being led by senior Abbie Jackson. Cincinnati looked to end the Cougars extensive win streak and give them their first conference loss but got swept three sets to none.
The Bearcats were without their lead setter Emme Madden, which caused some troubles for the Cats’ offensively. Due to Madden’s injury, UC relied heavily on freshman Caroline Endres, who just came back from an injury.
“I think we had some moments that we passed really well, which gave us some opportunities to swing. Caroline also just came off an injury as well, so a little tougher for her to not have her normal setting reps just to touch on the ball, that's a daily thing for our setters, so she did a nice job considering the circumstances…” head coach Molly Alvey said. “I think overall, the start of the match we played how we expect to as far as point for point against good teams, you really have to understand the length of the game and the mental endurance to sit in and play point for point for point, good teams will. That's how good matches are played.”
The Bearcats played a tight-knit first set, at one point being down one point (19-18) thanks to four straight points ignited by first-year Carly Glendinning services. Eventually, they would drop the set, 25-22.
Glendinning led Cincinnati with kills by racking up 10, whilst sophomore Abby Walker and Kailea Carrier anchored the defense, each recording four blocks.
The Cats also had a close battle in the third set. A service ace from sophomore Shaye Eggleston put the Bearcats within one point once again, this time 20-19. UC tried to have sophomore Molly Harrison bring a spark late in the third with her service game, but Houston was able to hold on, winning the set 25-21.
“In the third set we just lost a little focus. As coaches we took a couple chances here and there to see if we could spark a little bit of energy and create a little bit of a dynamic in the back court,” coach Alvey said. “And Molly Harrison has been serving bombs in practice, she’s been doing a really great job. So, to try and give her an opportunity late in the match to come in and do what she does, even though it’s late in the third set, but just to take those chances and see where it puts you, we just fell a bit short tonight.”
UC has now dropped nine straight sets, it will look to get back on track versus Tulane on Sunday, Nov. 6, at Fifth Third Arena.