Freshmen duo carries No. 4 Volleyball to 3-1 win over Pepperdine
Aug. 27, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas – The fourth-ranked Texas Volleyball team used a pair of standout performances by freshmen Khat Bell and Haley Eckerman to down Pepperdine, 3-1 in its 2011 season opener at Gregory Gymnasium. A raucous crowd of 3,163 were on hand to witness the Horns’ 26-24, 21-25, 25-16, 25-22 victory on opening night of the Longhorn Network.
Bell led all Horns with 16 kills and added 17 digs and six total blocks to her stat line, while Eckerman notched 12 kills and chipped in four digs. Senior All-America middle blocker Rachael Adams joined them in double-digits with 10 kills on .412 hitting and bolstered Texas’ 20-block effort with seven total blocks.
Texas won a see-saw battle in a first set that saw 13 ties and five lead changes, rallying from a 22-21 deficit to close the frame on a 5-2 run. A kill by Adams put the Horns in front 23-22 and a Pepperdine service error forced set point at the 24-23 mark. The Waves evened the tally at 24 before UT used a Bell kill and a Pepperdine error to end the set, 26-24.
The second stanza marked another back-and-forth struggle for the first half of the set until Pepperdine went on a 6-1 run to forge ahead 17-14. The Waves widened the margin to 23-18 on a Kim Hill kill before a three-point UT rally cut the edge to two. Pepperdine responded and closed out the stanza, 25-21 on kills by Hill and Katie Messing.
The Longhorns bounced back in the third, opening the set on an 8-2 run and they did not look back. Adams notched four blocks in the frame and the Horns totaled 7.5 as a team. They stretched the margin to 18-8 courtesy of a 4-1 run fueled by two block assists by sophomore setter Hannah Allison. Bell and Eckerman helped UT close the door with two kills apiece down the stretch to end the set, 25-16.
In the fourth, Texas leapt out to an early 12-4 edge following a kill and two solo blocks by Allison. The Waves rallied to narrow the margin to two at the 21-19 mark and down to one at the 23-22 mark, but the Horns used a kill by Adams and a Pepperdine miscue to end the set 25-22.
Texas returns to action at the Burnt Orange Classic on Saturday, Aug. 27 when it plays host to Ole Miss at 11:30 a.m. Central and the Israel National Team at 5 p.m. Central.
· Texas’ win improved the Horns to 32-6 all-time in season openers and 9-2 under Jerritt Elliott.
· Texas’ win moved its all-time record against Pepperdine to 12-4 and 6-1 in Austin.
· Khat Bell recorded 16 kills and 17 digs to notch a kill/dig double-double in her collegiate debut.
· The Horns out-blocked the Waves, 20.0-to-6.0 in the win. The 20 blocks marked the most for Texas since it posted 20 against Florida A&M on Sept. 2, 2010.
Head coach Jerritt Elliott
Opening statement: I was just pleased, we have a young team and we knew that there were going to be some hiccups in terms of how they adjust to things. There was just a lot of anxiety on the floor early on, and we weren’t playing to our level, but also you get so used to a certain style in your gym that it is hard to make those adjustments. That’s one of those challenges when you play a really good team right off the bat. Those kinds of crazy lineups that we’ve never gone through before makes things challenging. After the adjustments we had in the locker room - they did a lot better job going low and tight, getting their feet in front of them and making some key plays.
On if there were a lot of nerves in the first two games: Yeah, and Pepperdine passes really well. We’ve got to work on our serving game and when they’re passing at the level they are, the ball’s on the net and we’re not able to use our size. So we started serving some short balls, taking some players out, getting them a little more predictable and trying to get some matchups that we wanted and slow down the offence.
On positives he will take from this game: There were a lot of positives. The way our freshman played, I mean you have two freshmen that had to try and carry us on the left side. For Haley Cameron it was the first time she’s played in the middle. Sarah Palmer who hasn’t really been on side A very much at all, had to come over and play a position we really haven’t trained her much in. I thought overall the players had to make many adjustments so I’m pleased. There’s not a whole lot of negatives right now, we knew what we were going to get. Early on you always have kind of inconsistencies. We wanted to schedule tough, we could have scheduled easier, but this is going to bode well for us down the road.
Sophomore S Hannah Allison
On how the first game went: Pretty good, we’ve been working all spring and summer so it’s definitely been a really big build up to finally play someone besides ourselves. So that was really big for us, to actually see ourselves compared to someone outside our gym. We can really build from there.
On if UT played up to their expectations: Well it’s hard to have lots of expectations with so many new people, but we definitely had high expectations. The first game is never necessarily smooth, but I think we had things exposed that we will be able to fix, and that’s encouraging. But we definitely have some areas to improve on.
Freshman MB/OH Khat Bell
On areas the team needs to work on: A little more communication, passing, everybody could use a little more defense, talking and on the block and transitioning.
On playing her first game in Gregory Gymnasium: Yeah, it was crazy, once in the middle of the game when we were sitting on the bench, I kept thinking, “I cannot believe I am sitting here, I was like focus, focus, focus.” But I still had that same feeling I couldn’t get out of my head. And I still can’t believe I’m sitting here at this table, at this time. There’s nothing like it. The feeling is great, you know this gym has such great fans, you know loud and so outgoing. I loved it. It was really fun.
Freshman OH Haley Eckerman
On the upperclassmen’s leadership: I feel like Jerritt [Elliott] talks about how the upperclassmen need to lead us by example. And towards the end, when we were kind of battling back and forth, they led by example which helped us to calm down, relax and stay focused on the game and not worry about the play that happened.