Volleyball rallies to defeat Kansas State, 3-2
AUSTIN, Texas -- The eighth-ranked Texas volleyball team overcame a 2-0 deficit to record three straight victories and edge Kansas State, 3-2 (28-30, 25-30, 30-26, 30-16, 15-10) Saturday afternoon at Gregory Gym. Freshman outside hitter Ashley Engle's game-high 18 kills paced a group of four Longhorns with double figure kill totals in the Texas (9-4, 4-2 Big 12) victory.
After recording victories in game three and four to even the match at two games apiece, the Longhorns used a 4-0 run late in game five to take a commanding 13-9 lead. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Paolini recorded two of her game four kills during the run and Engle pushed the UT advantage to four with her final kill of the match. A Stacey Spiegelberg kill ended the Horns run, but a Kansas State error moved the score to 14-10 and set up game point for Texas. Paolini and Engle again stepped up on the final point blocking a Sandy Werner attack and clinching the match for the Longhorns.
"I was very pleased with the way we fought back," said Head Coach Jerritt Elliott. "I think we needed this kind of match to get our rhythm back."
Kansas State (8-7, 0-5 Big 12) trailed early in game one, but used a 3-0 run at the 5-3 mark to grab a 6-5 lead that it would not relinquish. The Wildcats took hold of the game when they broke a 14-14 tie on a Megan Kroeker kill and three straight Jenny Jantsch service aces. Texas kept the game close down the stretch, pulling within one at the 26-25 mark. The Horns traded points with the Wildcats the rest of the way, but failed to put together a run and fell 30-28.
In game two K-State ran out to a quick 3-0 advantage and it would hold the lead for the duration. Texas stayed in the game until a 4-0 Wildcats run, headlined by a pair of Megan Farr kills pushed the Kansas State advantage to 22-17. Junior Leticia Armstrong recorded two of her five, game-three kills late in the game, but it was not enough as the Wildcats took the game, 30-25.
"After game two Coach Elliott told us that we weren't playing badly, but that we just didn't have the fight to win," remarked junior setter Michelle Moriarty. "He told just to come out and play our game and that is what we did in the last three games."
Texas started slow in game three, but rallied from a seven-point deficit with a 6-0 run at the 13-7 mark to move within one. Junior outside hitter Jen Christian started the rally with a kill and Paolini recorded a solo block and two block assists with Ashley Engle to get the Horns back in the game. Texas used a 4-0 run, capped by a pair of Armstrong kills to even the game at 17-17, and grabbed its first lead of the game when senior Dariam Acevedo connected on consecutive kills that put the Horns up, 20-19. The Horns battled back and forth with the Wildcats from that point on, but a 3-0 Texas run capped by two Engle kills ended the game 30-26.
The Longhorns fell behind early in game four, however, three points from Moriarty and a block by Acevedo move the Horns in front, 5-3, and they would never look back. Texas put together four more runs of three points or more, and Engle and Paolini each recorded four kills to hand the Longhorns a decisive, 30-16 game four victory.
"We knew we had to get Lauren (Paolini) in the game to open up the hitting lanes, and help out our backcourt defense," commented Elliott. "She was a great match-up against Kansas State's tall middle blocker, and I think she did a great job."
Engle led the Longhorns in the match with a match-high 18 kills to go along with 15 digs, en route to recording her fifth kill/dig double-double of the season and second in as many matches. Armstrong posted 17 kills on .353 hitting in the match and Acevedo and Moriarty each weighed in with a double-double. Acevedo registered 15 kills and 22 digs on the afternoon, while Moriarty tallied 75 assists and 16 digs. Paolini finished with 15 kills on .519 hitting and Christian chipped in 10 digs, while junior libero Alyson Jennings added 18 digs.
No. 8 Texas returns to action Tuesday, Oct. 3 when they travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the Iowa State Cyclones. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.