COLUMBUS, Ohio – Toledo won its season opener for the fourth-straight year on Friday afternoon with a come-from-behind 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 15-25, 25-23, 15-11) triumph over Houston. The match took place at Ohio State's Sports Imports DC Koehl Classic at St. John Arena.
"It was a great win for us over a Houston team that I think is going to have a very good season," Toledo Head Coach Greg Smith. "They were a tough opponent, and it's good to get our first-match jitters per se out of the way and get some confidence under our belt. They were a lot of momentum changes, and the match could have gone either way. I feel like we did a nice job of staying mentally tough and getting it done when we needed to."
Junior MB Dakota Harkins and junior RSH Becca Reidy topped the Rockets' offensively with 13 and 12 kills, respectively, with Harkins also posting a team-best .385 attack percentage and five blocks. Senior libero McCall Paynter led UT's defensive efforts in the back row with a match-high 20 digs.
"Our middles did a good job today," said Smith of Harkins and sophomore MB Brooke Frazer (seven kills). "Dakota had a great match and Brooke really started connecting with the setters later in the match."
The Rockets utilized a pair of setters, freshman Alex Hines and junior Adria Pryor, in the contest. Hines started the match and tallied 24 assists, while Pryor enter midway through the third set and notched 17 helpers.
Houston registered a 63-49 advantage in kills and narrowly outhit the Rockets, .168-.164, but Toledo held the upper-hand defensively in digs, 72-67, and blocks, 8-5.
Senior OH Katie Norris paced Houston with a match-high 17 kills but was limited to a .054 hitting mark.
The Rockets trailed 14-10 in the fourth set but scored six straight points to take a 22-18 lead en route to forcing a fifth set. A pair of Reidy kills accounted for two of Toledo's final three points in the set.
The two teams traded points early on in Set Five, but a four-point Rocket run put the Midnight Blue & Gold ahead 7-4. The Cougars came within a point on three occasions (10-9, 11-10, 12-11) but could never score the equalizer.
"We learned a lot about where we need to improve and that's why we're playing in a tournament like this," Smith said. "We're excited to play Oregon tonight to see if we can improve on the areas Houston exploited."
Toledo is back in action later this evening when it takes on No. 20 Oregon at 7:30 p.m. The Ducks will be playing their first match of the day against the Rockets.