Volleyball rallies in five-game thriller against Colorado
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas senior All-American Mira Topic (Kastela Kambelovac, Croatia) recorded a match-high 27 kills and 17 digs as Texas rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Colorado, 3-2 (26-30, 20-30, 30-22, 30-20, 20-18), in a Big 12 conference volleyball match at Gregory Gym in front of 1,717 on Saturday night. The Horns fought off four match points, and then won the match on its second match point of the night when freshman Sarah Holloway (Aurora, Colo.) aced the Buffaloes on her serve.
Topic's sixth double-double of the season led a trio of three Longhorns who collected double-figure kills in the victory. Senior All-American Bethany Howden (Austin, Texas) added 18 and sophomore Brandy Magee (Mission Viejo, Calif.) connected for 15 to help the Horns improve to 9-0 on the season and 2-0 in conference play. Colorado fell to 6-3 overall and 1-1 in Big 12 matches.
Four Colorado players - Allie Griffin (17), Maragda Santillana (16), Nicole Carr (14) and Austin Zimmerman (10) - swung for double-figure kills, while Carr added 16 digs in the defeat.
In the fifth and decisive game, CU pulled ahead by two points - to 9-7 - and forced UT to fight from behind. At 14-13, the Buffs held their first match point, but a Topic kill - her third of six in the game - staved off the threat. Three more times Colorado held match point and twice a Topic kill saved the Horns. At 17-16 (CU), a Howden kill on an overpass leveled the score at 17-17, before she added a solo block to give UT the first of its match points. One more tie ensued before Topic's 27th kill of the evening set up Holloway's serve on match point.
Texas fell behind 2-0 after two games - even after holding a 23-17 advantage in the first game - and went into the locker room at intermission needing to win the third game to survive. In the second game, UT stayed even with CU until 10-10 when the Buffs ran off five straight points to take control of the game. Colorado built the lead to 10 before winning the game and sending the teams into the intermission.
Texas' win snapped Colorado's three-match winning streak over Texas that dated back to the 2002 season.
"We showed a great deal of heart tonight," Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said after the win. "We fought our way back and dug deep and found a way to win. I was glad we faced some adversity tonight."
"We needed to re-group after the first and second game. That first game was going well until we got stuck in a rotation with a great jump server (Griffin) and we struggled to get out, and lost our lead. That set us back a bit and it carried over into the second game. When we got into the locker room, we made some changes and the team came out refreshed and ready to win. We played game three like it was a different match and that momentum carried us through to the end. This is a young team and the win tonight will go a long way for our confidence this season," Elliott concluded.
In the third game, UT jumped out to a 17-12 lead riding a series of errors from CU, then pushed the lead to eight when Howden added two kills and a block.
Texas continued its inspired play in the fourth game and managed to build a 20-15 lead. Colorado pulled within four points - at 20-16 - but UT ran off a 10-4 run to close the game and force the critical game five.
Texas freshman libero Alyson Jennings (Costa Mesa, Calif.) had 12 digs in the game, and freshman setter Michelle Moriarty (Houston, Texas) added four aces as the team had 10 aces to CU's five. At the net, the two teams - two of the tallest in the nation - combined for 23.0 blocks: 12.0 for Texas and 11.0 for Colorado. The two teams struggled hitting as CU paced the Horns, .239 to .229. Texas hit .417 in the fifth game, compared to the Buffs' .300.
Texas returns to action on Wednesday, Sept. 22, when the Horns host Iowa State in a Big 12 match. First serve is at 6:30 p.m. at Gregory Gym.