No. 23 Volleyball guts out five-game win over No. 24 Kansas
AUSTIN, Texas -- After struggling in back-to-back matches, both Dariam Acevedo and Jen Christian had break-out matches and led the No. 23 Texas volleyballteam past No. 24 Kansas in a five-game thriller, 30-26, 30-24, 27-30, 27-30, 15-13, on Wednesday night at Gregory Gym before a season-best crowd of 2,192.
The win was Texas' ninth in a row at Gregory, and the 19th victory in the team's last 20 at its home arena.
After seeing its outside hitters post below-average performances in the last two matches, Texas (7-2, 2-1 Big 12) won the match behind the power of the outsides. The team's hitters combined for 40 kills and hit a combined .284 after going for only a -0.07 mark in UT's last match.
Acevedo had 22 kills, one off her career best, hit .300 on 50 attacks and added two aces and a career-best five blocks. Christian had a career-best 20 kills and recorded her first career double-double with 10 digs while matching her career-best in blocks with five.
Middle blockers Leticia Armstrong and Brandy Magee each added 15 kills apiece, while Armstrong collected eight blocks and Magee had six.
"After last weekend, we keyed on getting more production from our outside hitters," Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott, who was rewarded with a contract extension through 2009 on Wednesday, said after the match. "We worked hard on Monday on that and it was the key to the match.
"We knew with the production our middles get, that if they could follow their lead and get some swings down, we'd be alright. They made great strides on Monday and Tuesday in practice and it showed tonight. We just have to keep working on maintaining balance."
Four players had double-figure kills for Kansas (10-2, 2-1 Big 12), led by Paula Caten's 21 and Jana Correa and Emily Brown's 19 apiece. Josi Lima, the defending Big 12 and national player of the week, was held to just 13 kills and only one block.
Texas dominated at the net, collecting 17.5 blocks while Kansas mustered only six for the match. UT hit .299 despite the five-game outcome, swinging for a .406 mark in the second game and a .455 mark in the decisive final game. Kansas hit .280 overall with a pair of .400 games - the third (.455) and fifth (.471).
The final game came down to Texas' power at the net as the Longhorns swung for 14 kills. Kansas had nine on only one error, but UT gained the lead early and was able to maintain it through the game.
UT jumped out to an 11-7 lead in game five, and saw the Jayhawks crawl back to within one point at 14-13, but Christian's final kill of the night clinched the game for the Horns.
In the first game, UT came back from a pair of five-point deficits early - 5-0 and 10-5 - and managed to tie the score at 20-20 before closing the game on a 10-6 run to take a 1-0 lead. The teams played evenly in the second game until 20-20 again, when UT again strung together another small streak to take the second game.
Kansas took the lead in the third game off the first point and after the score was tied at 8-8, KU steadily pulled away, building its lead to as big as seven points - at 23-15. The Longhorns continued to claw and got as close as two points, but the Jayhawks held game point at 29-27, and a Brown kill gave KU its first game.
Both teams played evenly in the fourth game with neither team taking a lead bigger than two points until the score was tied at 27-27. Back-to-back attack errors by UT gave Kansas game point and Caten converted to send the game to the fifth game.
Texas' victory was its third in a row over the Jayhawks and also marked the team's first victory over a ranked team in 2005. It was the Horns' first match against a ranked team this season.
The win was Texas' first in a five-game match this season in its second attempt. Earlier this season, the Longhorns suffered their first loss of the year at Notre Dame - now ranked 11th nationally, though then unranked - with a 15-10 final game.
After an off weekend, the Longhorns return to action next Wednesday, Sept. 28, when they travel to Kansas State - which is currently ranked No. 17 - for a 7 p.m. match in Manhattan.