Volleyball moves to 3-0 after pair of sweeps
DALLAS -- Senior All-American Mira Topic (Kastela Kambelovac, Croatia) continued to pace the Texas Volleyball team and was voted SMU Invitational Most Valuable Player as the Longhorns improved to 3-0 on the season with a pair of 3-0 victories at the SMU Invitational on Saturday at Moody Coliseum. In their first match of the day, the Horns topped Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (30-18, 30-23, 30-26) before defeating Northern Arizona (30-17, 30-14, 30-21) in their evening game.
Topic averaged 5.00 kills per game in the tournament, recording 45 kills in three matches. On Friday evening against SMU, Topic had 19 kills and 21 digs - one off her career high - to pace the team to the victory. She also added 26 more kills on the second day of the tournament in two separate matches. Joining Topic on the SMU Invitational All-Tournament Team were fellow Longhorn, sophomore Brandy Magee (Mission Viejo, Calif.), who averaged 3.33 kills per game and almost one block per game. She had back-to-back double-figure kill matches on Saturday against Cal Poly and Northern Arizona. The rest of the all-tournament team included Beth Karasek (SMU), Jacky Niederstadt (SMU), Vanessa Gilliam (Cal Poly) and Ellie Butterfield (NAU).
Topic had her second double-double of the season in the Cal Poly match (match-highs of 16 kills and 12 digs) and added 10 kills in the nightcap. Senior All-American Bethany Howden (Austin, Texas) continued her strong start to the season adding 14 kills with no errors and a .519 hitting percentage in the NAU match.
On the weekend, Texas (3-0) held opponents in the teens in scoring in five times in nine games. In 2003, the Horns limited their foes to fewer than 20 points 10 times total in 105 games (29 matches). With the losses to UT, Northern Arizona fell to 0-3, while Cal Poly moved to 1-1 with one match remaining - vs. SMU on Saturday evening - in the tournament.
"I was really pleased with the overall effort on the weekend," Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "We did some really good things on the defense end and on our offensive side. We were able to get everyone in to play this weekend and we saw what everyone can do for us and how every player can contribute. Brandy (Magee) played well in the two matches today, and Mira (Topic) was excellent all weekend. But everyone had a good tournament and I'm excited for the rest of the season. We have a talented team that has a lot of potential."
Against the Mustangs of Cal Poly, three Horns recorded double-figure kills as Topic, Magee and freshman Jen Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.) accomplished the feat. Magee had 13 kills with no errors (.565 attack percentage) and added five blocks (one solo and four block assists) in the match, while Christian had 12 kills in her Texas debut.
UT set the tone for the match in the first game, jumping ahead 8-1 before cruising to the 30-18 victory. In the second game, Cal Poly pulled within one point - at 20-19 - before the Horns closed the game with a 10-3 run. The two teams fought tough in the final game and were tied at 25-25 before kills by Topic (two), Christian and sophomore Dariam Acevedo (Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) closed the game and the match out.
In the nightcap, the Longhorns continued their strong play early, pulling out an 11-3 advantage in the first game. The second game was much the same as UT dominated with an early 20-6 lead. Northern Arizona hung with the Horns for much of the early game in the third, staying within three points at 17-14, but Texas closed out the match with a 13-7 run to take the match. Howden led all attackers with 14 kills in the NAU match as Texas dominated with a .424 attack percentage in the match, while limiting Northern Arizona to a .095 mark. For the third consecutive match, UT out-dug its opponent (40-32).
Texas returns to action on Tuesday, Sept. 7, when the team travels to Houston to take on the Houston Cougars in a 7 p.m. match at Hofheinz Pavilion.
SMU Invitational All-Tournament Team Mira Topic (Texas) - MVP Brandy Magee (Texas) Beth Karasek (SMU) Jacky Niederstadt (SMU) Vanessa Gilliam (Cal Poly) Ellie Butterfield (NAU)