No. 2 Volleyball sweeps Texas A&M in State Farm Lone Star Showdown
Sept. 30, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- Senior All-America outside hitter Destinee Hooker hammered out 17 kills to lift No. 2 Texas to a 3-0 victory over Texas A&M, Wednesday night in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown. The 28-26, 25-20, 25-21 victory improved the Longhorns to 10-0 on the year and 5-0 in Big 12 play, while the Aggies dropped to 9-3 overall and 2-2 in league action.
The Longhorns' victory earned UT the first half-point in the 2009 Showdown. This marks the sixth year of the Showdown, the all-sports athletic competition between Texas and Texas A&M. In order to win the Showdown, a school must acquire 10.0 points during the year.
The Aggies played the Longhorns tight in a first set that saw the score tie 18 times and the lead change seven times. Texas A&M opened the match on a 4-0 run, but Texas stormed back to take a 10-9 lead on a kill by senior All-America setter/opposite hitter Ashley Engle. Neither team led by more than two points down the stretch and the Aggies had three set-point opportunities before UT took advantage of two A&M errors to win the set 28-26.
In the second, a 6-1 Texas A&M run gave the Aggies a quick 11-6 edge. Texas responded immediately with a 5-0 run paced by a kill and an ace from Hooker that evened the tally at 11. The Horns kept their rally going with a 5-0 run capped by a solo block from junior middle blocker Jennifer Doris that put UT ahead, 17-13. A kill by freshman middle blocker Sha'Dare McNeal widened the margin to 22-17 and an A&M attack error allowed Texas to close out the frame, 25-20.
Texas led for the duration of the third stanza, using an early 5-1 run headlined by a kill and a solo block from Hooker to claim a 12-8 lead. The Aggies battled back to close the margin to 17-16, but after a UT timeout Hooker came on strong with three kills that pushed the lead to 22-18. A pair of late Aggie miscues and a set-sealing kill from junior All-America outside hitter Julian Faucette propelled Texas to a 25-21 victory.
Hooker added 12 digs and a .469 hitting percentage to her 17-kill performance to lead the Longhorns, while Faucette added 14 kills and Engle chipped in six kills and 23 assists.
Texas returns to action on Friday, Oct. 2 when it travels to Kansas State. First serve is set for 7 p.m. Central.
On the team's lineup adjustments: I was very impressed. Some of our players have been a little under the weather, so people have had to step up on different nights, and that is what we have been preaching. We have been able to go through a lot of different players. I am just really proud of Michelle [Kocher] because she had such a big role, and she has kind of had to be a backup right now. This is one of her big time opportunities in a big time match for us, and she stepped up, was not fazed and played very well for us.
On going into this week following a tough road trip: Our theme has been that we have to be mentally tough this week. The mental challenge right now is getting through this week, and luckily we were able to play this match at home in front of a crowd that gives us some energy. When you schedule a tough schedule, it takes a lot of preparation to be up every night and train at a high level. We have been on the road quite a bit, and now we have another quick turnaround, flying up to Kansas State tomorrow. There is not a whole lot of time for us. This weekend will be the first time we have some downtown and have more than one day off since August.
On the tempo shifting in Texas' favor: Game two, we were down 11-6 at one point. What changed that was they were kind of looking around, and, yes, we made the sub, but that can sometimes refocus everybody on what the responsibilities are. Destinee [Hooker] changed that by being aggressive. She had a big swing on a two ball and then went back and jump served. Juliann [Faucette] had a nice transition swing, then we started to get back to being more aggressive. Texas A&M was in control early on and kind of pushing us around, but then we imposed our will back on them, and that was a great lesson. I told them in the locker room that we need to continue to fight when teams are putting a lot of pressure on us, and they were able to do that, which was nice.
On tonight's crowd: The crowd was great. It was nice to have the students, the Hellraisers, Texas Liberos and the swimmers out here. It is a great college environment. They were loud in crunch time and gave us some extra needed adrenaline. It is such a great team, and it is so much fun. That is the environment that we shoot for on a nightly basis.
Junior Juliann Faucette
On A&M coming out hard tonight in the rivalry: Well I think it just shows that A&M is a great team. Rankings don't matter and especially with a rivalry like this. They are going to come in our gym wanting to beat us and vice versa. It is awesome to have that rivalry and to be able to be pushed because at the end of the year that is how everything is going to be.
On getting into a rhythm the first set: It definitely took us some time to get into a rhythm because they were serving the heck out of the ball on their side. They challenged our passing and from there it just took our rhythm out of it, so we just had to find good swings and have good sets. We just had to find that and obviously we did in the second and third.
On what this win does for the team and season: I think it is great. Every time we get a 'W' it helps us out especially in this Big 12 race. It is going to be tough. It is a tough road for us
On being too emotional before a big match: Yes. I think we were a little jittery and emotional at first. I know I personally was. It is just a fun rivalry and a big environment to be in. It can definitely be counteractive, but it is also helps to have this big crowd.
Senior outside hitter Destinee Hooker
On the tough first set: It definitely kept our eyes open. To expect the unexpected because we know what their team can do.
Sophomore setter Michelle Kocher: