Topic leads No. 9 Volleyball past Missouri
AUSTIN, Texas -- Freshman libero Alyson Jennings (Costa Mesa, Calif.) paced a Longhorns defense that saw three players collect 11 or more digs and All-American Mira Topic (Kastela Kambelovac, Croatia) had a season-high 28 kills to lead No. 9 Texas to a 3-0 victory over Missouri (33-31, 30-22, 30-23), on Wednesday night before 1,745 at Gregory Gym. Texas (16-0, 8-0 Big 12) snapped Missouri's (10-5, 5-3 Big 12) four-match winning streak and continued its status as one of the nation's remaining four undefeated teams.
Jennings had a career-high 17 digs, while Topic added 11 digs for her 10th double-double of the season. Sophomore Dariam Acevedo (Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) also had 11 digs in the match. Senior All-American Bethany Howden (Austin, Texas) added 12 kills and a match-high five blocks in the match.
Topic's 28 kills tied the season high in the Big 12 - across all matches - which was originally set by Baylor's Nicole LeBlanc in five games on Sept. 1 against UT-Arlington.
A pair of Tigers - Jessica Vader Kooi (12 kills) and Nicole Wilson (10 kills) - had double-figure kills for the Tigers as libero Tatum Ailes had a team-high 13 digs.
The victory over the Tigers was Texas' second in as many matches as Missouri had won the previous seven matches prior to UT's 3-1 victory last Oct. 29, 2003 in Gregory Gym.
"We've been able to key on several players these last few matches and every match someone else steps up," Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "We can pretty much expect Mira to throw down some big numbers every match, but we have someone else step up and back her up every time we take the court. The key has been our balance and being able to spread the offense out.
"We've struggled a bit in game one tonight and had to come back to win that game, but we've been great all year when the game or match is on the line. We've stepped up when it matters and we've closed out matches well.
"Missouri fights hard every time they take the court. They play great systems, have great coaching and play excellent defense. It's always a great match when we play Mizzou," Elliott continued.
In game one, Texas pulled ahead as far as 12-5 but Missouri came all the way back and tied the game at 21-21. The Horns continued to claim a slight advantage, but the Tigers again knotted the score at 28-28, then a UT attack error handed them their first game point. Abbie Booth stepped up to serve and brought the game even again with a service error. Then MU had another game point on a Horn service error. However, Topic's eighth kill of the game handed Texas its first game point, which Mizzou fought off, and her ninth kill of the game gave UT a game point it wouldn't waste and won the game 33-31.
In the second game, Texas used an 8-5 run midway through the game to pull ahead for good, and then ran off a 7-2 run to secure the win. Three straight Tiger ball-handling errors gave Texas the game.
In the final game, Texas slowly pulled away from Missouri - helped by a 9-4 run in the middle of the game. Topic had 10 kills in the game, including the final kill of the match. Missouri had pulled within three points - at 26-23 - but Topic began a four-point spurt that continued with kills by freshman Jen Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.), Acevedo and ended with Topic.
Texas returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 16, when the team travels to College Station for its first match-up against No. 20 Texas A&M in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown. The match is set for 3 p.m., and has been moved from the originally scheduled 7 p.m. to accommodate the Aggie football game.