by Chris Peña

Daily Cougar Staff

The No. 18 Houston Cougar volleyball team exacted sweet revenge against the Texas A&M Aggies as it avenged its lone conference defeat and became the first team other than Texas to win the Southwest Conference Tournament.

At this weekend's tourney, held at Rice's Autry Court, the Cougars (24-4) earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament as they blew the Texas Tech Red Raiders (15-15) and the Aggies (18-12) off the floor.

In Sunday's championship match, Houston – ranked first in the South Region – paid back the Aggies and made up for its only regular-season loss as the team swept A&M by scores of 15-10, 15-9 and 15-8 before a largely Cougar crowd of 1,753.

Houston set a tournament record for hitting percentage by hitting .299 in the contest.

Tournament MVP and SWC Player of the Year Lilly Denoon-Chester once again led the team to victory as she recorded 42 kills in the two matches, but senior hitter Carla Maul was nearly flawless against the Aggies.

Maul hit a scorching .684 for the match, and she recorded 13 kills, making no errors. She was also second on the team with 13 digs.

In Saturday's match against Tech, Denoon-Chester set a tournament record with 25 kills in one match. The previous record of 20 was set by former Cougar stand-out Ashley Mulkey in the 1993 tourney.

Houston head coach Bill Walton said the win over the Aggies was very satisfying.

"When you win the conference tournament by beating the only team that beat you during the regular season, it definitely gives you some pride," he said.

Walton said the Cougars were more prepared for the Aggies' attack on Sunday.

"We worked all week on not letting (Aggie outside hitter) Jennifer Bronner dominate the game," he said. "Our defense, passing and serving were definitely better today.

"I don't think we out-hustled them when we played in College Station, so this time, we made sure we hustled for everything."

To get to the championship match, Houston had to beat a Texas Tech team that came out hot and put them on their heels. The Raiders won the first game 15-10, but the Cougars came back to take the final three games 15-6, 15-9 and 15-9.

The Cougars out-blocked the Raiders 12-5 and out-digged them 87-72. Against A&M, Houston had 13 team blocks, compared with only two for the Aggies. A&M out-blocked the Cougars 17-7 in its victory in College Station.

The Cougars placed two players on the all-tournament squad. Sophomore hitter Marie-Claude Tourillon, who had four service aces, one solo block and seven block assists, was the only Cougar besides Denoon-Chester to make the all-star team.

Walton said he was not happy with the makeup of the all-tournament team. Besides the two Houston players, three Aggies made the team.

"It's really a shame that the setter from the championship team (sophomore Sami Sawyer) and the best hitter here this weekend (Maul) did not get any recognition."

Walton said some coaches probably based their votes on previous performances, not on how the players competed in the tournament.

Although Houston has now won both the SWC regular-season and tournament championships, the Cougars cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

The team will travel to California and probably face stiffer competition in the first round of the NCAAs. The Cougars will play top 10 teams California-Santa Barbara and Long Beach State Friday and Saturday.






by Jennifer Smith

Daily Cougar Staff

With the help of former SA Senator Justin McMurtry, the Students' Association is venturing headlong into the age of technology.

All a student will need is access to a computer and a modem to look up the information that will be available on the Students' Association Information Service. Almost all student computer clusters will provide access.

"We (SA) are pursuing the increased availability of technology and technology training for students," said McMurtry, the newly appointed SA director of Information Technology. "We are also pursuing the technology to enhance the educational experience for students and to use technology to conquer some of the effects of 'bureaucratitis.' "

McMurtry said bureaucratitis refers to the administrative gridlock that occurs when students are sent from one university office to another to solve problems.

Throughout the fall semester, McMurtry has devoted his time to SA's electronic endeavors and was appointed to his present position at the last SA meeting. He added that UH's Department of Information Technology has helped with the process of bringing technology to SA.

So far, McMurtry has succeeded in getting the SA Constitution on line, and within two weeks, the SA Code and Bylaws will be on line as well. In addition, the minutes of SA Senate meetings, as well as pending legislation, will be put on line.

McMurtry said most of the SA senators and executives are already on e-mail. Students can obtain the addresses from the Infoserver. The SA executive Cabinet may also soon be available on e-mail by named accounts, just as the faculty are.

McMurtry is also planning to create multiple-recipient e-mail addresses, which will, for example, allow students to send messages to the entire Senate at once.

Also, McMurtry said he is now in contact with student-government representatives at Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and the University of Toronto to expand the network.

For those students with Jetson e-mail accounts, the SA information system is easy to access. From the Jetson "$" prompt, type "access gopher." Then type "gopher."

From the root menu presented, choose selection No. 5, Committees and Representative Bodies. This is done by typing "5" <return>. Select "1," the SA information, from the menu.

McMurtry said he has other plans as well, like placing the student handbook and course catalog on line.

"How soon all of these projects are finished depends on how much help I can get," McMurtry said.

He added that he is looking for enthusiastic people to help him with all of these projects.







by Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff

SAN ANTONIO – The Houston Cougar football team fell to their ninth defeat in 10 outings this season as the Texas Tech Red Raiders dumped Houston for a 34-0 defeat before 20,286 in San Antonio's Alamodome.

Houston (1-8 overall, 1-5 in the Southwest Conference) will end the season Saturday against cross-town rival Rice in the annual Bayou Bucket Classic in the Astrodome.

With the victory, Tech (6-4, 4-2) moved within one victory of claiming the SWC title and making an appearance at the Cotton Bowl Jan. 2, its first since 1939.

The shutout against the Cougars marked the third time Houston has been held scoreless this season. Houston had not been shut out as many as three times in a season since 1959.

"Every time the offense had a chance to make a first down or had a third and short, we had penalties," Houston head coach Kim Helton said. "We made poor decisions and had poor penalties."

The Cougars were limited to just 215 yards of total offense, and the Houston combination of Clay Helton and Chad O'Shea at quarterback completed a total of nine passes for 111 yards.

"It was about the worst game of my life," Clay Helton said. "I felt like we ran the ball well today, but didn't have the passing game to go along with it.

"When that happened, (Tech) lined up in blitz coverage and keyed in on our running game and we couldn't beat those blitzes."

Though the score does not indicate a defensive success from Houston's standpoint, coach Helton hinted at the prospect that Saturday's contest was one of the Cougars' finest defensive performances of the season.

"I thought our defense really brought their war hatchets to the game today and played their hearts out," he said.

Though the defensive unit did surrender 396 yards of offense, it was the second-best performance by the defense since a 393-yard performance given up to Missouri in a 16-0 Houston defeat Sept. 17.

"All around, everybody on defense played hard," Cougar defensive tackle Carlos Chester said, who contributed nine tackles. "Everybody flew to the ball from the (defensive) line to the free safety. Tonight, we played defense like we knew we could."

After falling behind 24-0 at halftime, the Cougars held the Raiders to just 10 points in the final two periods.

"We were a little inconsistent at times," Tech coach Spike Dykes said. "Houston was hanging in the game and grinding it out on us."

Tech running back Byron Hanspard proved to be the only real thorn in the Cougars' paw as he rushed 24 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns, the first coming on Tech's first score in the first period from five yards out.

The Raiders complemented their running game with a not-as-impressive-but-effective passing performance from quarterback Zebbie Letheridge. The freshman completed 19-of-30 passes for 186 yards and a score.

Letheridge also ran for 75 yards on 14 carries with another touchdown.







by Jim Presnell

Daily Cougar Staff

Madonna's adopted a funk- and soul-oriented, relaxed style, taking a new look at some of the elements of love, lust, deprivation and loss. There's a little less depravity here and a little more honest emotion, it seems.

Her publicity stunt of sending out inquiries to possible fathers for her planned child seems tasteless in contrast with the cool attitude and warm flavor of her latest album, <I>Bedtime Stories<P>.

I've always been a Madonna fan. "Lucky Star" and "Borderline" off her first album impressed me as fine songwriting with a beat.

When she played South Florida, I wrote a favorable review in the Palm Beach Post while the Fort Lauderdale paper panned her for apparently lip-synching some songs. I didn't care how she did it; I liked the result.

<I>Stories<P> contains some absolutely brilliant material. The slick, sexy, soulful "Secret" immediately grabbed me. Madonna says the song "...may sound like a love song, but it's really about spirituality. It's about God being in us all and not on a pedestal. It's a self-empowering song that talks about happiness lying in our own hand, about being kind to yourself and other people."

Permeating this material is a sense of excitement at trying new musical styles and taking chances – just doing something new. And Madonna seems almost relieved to let it happen.

Making this record allowed Madonna to make new alliances and route her considerable talents through the soul-music world, drafting top R&B writers and producers to develop this album, including Dave Hall (Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige), Babyface (a noted writer, producer, singer and musician in his own right) and Dallas Austin (TLC, Boys II Men, Joy).

There's one song – the title track, in fact – cowritten by Bjork and Nellee Hooper. Unfolding as a sort of dance-floor hallucination, it urges unconsciousness in the name of travel to new dimensions. Bjork said on MTV recently that she co-wrote the song as a favor to Hooper and that she has yet to actually meet Madonna.

Stuff like the closing track, "Take a Bow," which seems to deal with life and love as a sort of performance, seems sweet and straightforward. The sentiment may seem a bit maudlin, but that's always been part of Madonna's shtick.

Maverick Records labelmate Me'Shell NdegéOcello guests on backing vocals and bass guitar for the track "I'd Rather be Your Lover," yet this wastes the guest's talents on a song that falls a bit flat, a boring and obvious explanation of the vagaries of man-woman relationships. (I think it's man-woman anyway; I guess that's open to interpretation.) The rhythm's OK, but the melody seems contrived and weak.

Oh well, every song can't grab you by the nether regions and twist your mind simultaneously. But Madonna's best do.



Visit The Daily Cougar