Faucette and Hooker power No. 3 Volleyball past Georgia, 3-1
Sept. 12, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas -- The third-ranked Texas Volleyball team used a match-high 18 kills by junior All-America outside hitter Destinee Hooker to knock off Georgia, 3-1 (25-21, 22-25, 25-13, 25-17) on Friday night at the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational. The Longhorns improved to 6-1 on the year and extended their home winning streak to 18 matches, while Georgia fell to 7-4 on the year.
Georgia kept the score close early in the first set, but a 4-0 run capped by a Lauren Paolini kill gave the Longhorns their largest lead at the 15-10 mark. The Bulldogs rallied to close the gap to 21-19, but a 4-0 run and three kills by Hooker pushed Texas to a 25-21 set win.
In the second set, Texas fell behind quickly, allowing Georgia to go on a 5-0 run and clinch an 8-3 edge. The Longhorns battled back to tie the set at 13 on a solo block by junior All-America opposite hitter Ashley Engle, but failed to forge ahead as the Bulldogs widened the margin to three and closed out the set, 25-22.
The Longhorns bounced back in the third stanza, opening the set on a 9-1 run that was highlighted by three Hooker kills. Georgia responded, closing the margin to four (9-5), but a 5-0 UT rally paced by three straight Juliann Faucette kills moved the score to 16-8. Texas added a 4-0 run to grab a 23-11 lead and Faucette's fifth kill of the set lifted UT to a 25-13 set win.
In the final frame, Texas posted 12 kills on .524 hitting and only committed one attack error. The Horns led by as many as five in the early going (11-6), but a 3-0 Bulldogs rally shrank the deficit to 12-11. Texas responded with a 4-0 run that pushed the lead to 20-14 and closed out the match with another 4-0 run capped by a Faucette kill that clinched the 25-17 victory.
Texas returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 20 when it kicks off Big 12 Conference play at No. 2 Nebraska. First serve from Lincoln, Neb. is set for 7 p.m. Central.
On the changes made after the second set: Our blocking was non-existent, and that is one of our strengths. So we made some blocking alignment changes and we tried to stop their right side a little bit more. I think we did an excellent job putting the ball down. We got [Sydney] Yogi in there and she was able to pick up a lot of the tips. Our left side blocking not only did a nice job touching balls, but also funneling balls so that we had more success getting it to the right side.
On being challenged early in the season: The challenge comes when you're as highly ranked as we are and teams are bringing their best game. Georgia got to see us play two times here and they got to see what we're capable of doing. That was by far the best Georgia had played all tournament. With 25 points, there's not a lot of room for error. We had to raise our game to another level and that was kind of the difference. That was the challenge that we were able to present to them. You could see what their hitting percentage was early on. We couldn't contain them in games one and two. They were very efficient, hitting .417 and .417. They passed and served well, but the difference was we were able to pick up our attacking. We made some adjustments with Michelle [Kocher] in terms of who attacked a and we tried to keep them a bit more off balance. She made some much better set selections and we picked it up on the defensive side.
On the confidence that comes from winning three games and also what the team can improve on: There is a lot we can still work on. I think there is a challenge of what level you can play at consistently and we were able to see that a lot this weekend. We started off playing very well. I was hoping that we were going to get pushed by Georgia. That was the plan when we asked them to come to the tournament. We were able to get that and take our game to a different level. We're going to play a very good Nebraska team next weekend. Yes they lost some players, but they are very efficient in the serve and pass game and they're playing very well right now in front of their home court. With 25 points, you can't go down and try to climb your way back up, it's very difficult.