Gallagher's Career Night Leads UAB Past UH, 3-2

Kirsten Gallagher sparked a late rally for the Blazers on Friday night

Sept. 21, 2012

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ---- Kirsten Gallagher rocketed a career-high 16 kills off a personal best .609 hitting clip as the UAB volleyball team defeated Houston, 3-2 (25-18, 20-25, 15-25, 25-12, 15-11) on Friday night at Bartow Arena.

In UAB’s first conference match of the season, Gallagher, a fifth-year senior, sparked a late rally for the Blazers to improve the team overall record to 7-8 and 1-0 in league play.

The Blazers return to Bartow Arena on Sunday, for a 1 p.m. CT tilt with the Rice Owls.

UAB trailed two games to one, entering the fourth frame when Gallagher put the team on her back.  The Auburn, Ala., native held serve for 10 straight points, ballooning what was a slim 13-11 lead to 23-11.  During the 10-point swing, Gallagher smoked a pair of aces.

“We started to serve a little more aggressively later in the match and that really helped us get some rhythm going,” head coach Kerry Messersmith said. 

The late rally in the fourth set proved to be too much for the Cougars to handle, as the Blazers held on for their first five-set victory of the season.

“Houston’s record is not at all indicative of who they are,” Messersmith said.  “They played a very, very challenging non-conference schedule and they’ve got a lot of potential.”

Gallagher filled out the box score on the night, adding five digs and three aces to her career-best kill total.  She put away multiple kills in every set, including a 4-for-7 effort in the fifth and deciding frame.  In addition, her .609 (16k-2e-23ta) hitting clip marked the third-best individual performance by a Blazer this season.

“Kirsten did a great job for us. She is very smart volleyball player and that is why she was so successful for us tonight,” Messersmith said. 

Overall, UAB out-hit Houston (1-11, 0-2 C-USA), .258 to .203, in a match that featured a seesaw showing of momentum.

Along with the excellent play from Gallagher in the fourth frame, Sam Serley, who was recently named to the Senior CLASS Award watch list, slammed down four kills on five attempts and recorded two solo blocks in the set.  UH was held to a negative hitting clip (-.065) in the fourth, after registered a blistering .571 attacking average in the third.

Serley who finished with 12 kills and hit .381 for the match, nailed down seven of her last eight swings, including a perfect 3-for-3 in the fifth and deciding frame.  In fact, Serley put away the match clinching kill, set up by teammate Alison Woods.  Serley added five total blocks for the night, marking the eighth time this season she reached five-or-more blocks.

Woods along with co-setter Becca Howard combined for 48 assists and 25 digs as each player recorded a double-double in the victory.  For Woods it was her team-best fourth double-double, while Howard sits not far behind, posting three of her own.

Also adding to the stat sheet was Kate Morrell, who reached double-digit kills with 12, along with eight digs and libero Rachel Fairbanks chipped in with 18 digs.

Houston was led by Stephanie Nwachukwu’s 15 kills and five block assists, en route to her team-best 17.5 total points.   Teammate Katie Norris posted a double-double, finishing with 13 kills and 18 digs.