No. 9 Volleyball edged by No. 1 Nebraska, 3-2
AUSTIN, Texas -- The ninth-ranked Texas Volleyball team battled back and forth with No. 1 Nebraska (18-0, 10-0 Big 12) throughout, but the Huskers erased a 2-1 Texas advantage to post a 3-2 (27-30, 30-22, 22-30, 30-22, 15-13) victory Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 3,822, the 11th largest attendance total in UT volleyball history. The attendance was the third biggest crowd in Gregory Gym history and the largest crowd in head coach Jerritt Elliott's five-plus year tenure.
Freshman outside hitter Destinee Hooker paced the Longhorns' attack on the night with a career-high 24 kills on .538 hitting, including four kills and a 1.000 attack mark in the fifth and deciding game. Nebraska outside hitter Sarah Pavan recorded a team-high 22 kills for the Huskers in the victory, hammering out six kills and posting a .600 hitting percentage in the final game.
"I was confident out there tonight and I think our team played well," Hooker said. "It was really fun tonight even though the outcome didn't go the way we wanted it to, and I think we can build on this and be a better team down the stretch."
Texas (12-5, 7-3 Big 12) fell behind 1-0 on a Pavan kill to start game five, but two straight kills by freshman Ashley Engle put the Horns in front, 2-1. Two more Pavan kills put the Huskers in front 3-2, and the two teams traded points until a Hooker kill evened the game at 5-5, and a solo block by Dariam Acevedo put UT ahead, 6-5.
The Horns and Huskers traded two more points before Nebraska put together a 4-0 run paced by a pair of Pavan kills and two Texas errors to claim a 10-7 advantage. Texas quickly answered with back-to-back kills by senior Jennifer Todd and Acevedo, closing the gap to one point and then knotting the score at 10-10 on a Nebraska attack error. Engle added her third kill of the game to the 4-0 rally to push the Horns in front by one.
Nebraska responded with a 3-0 run of its own, using kills by Pavan and freshman setter Rachel Holloway to reclaim the lead, and a block assist by Dani Mancuso and Kori Cooper to gain a 13-11 edge. A Huskers service error narrowed the margin to one, but an attack error by Engle gave NU a 14-12 lead. Hooker pulled Texas within one at 14-13, but a kill by Nebraska's Tracy Stalls clinched the game and the match for the Huskers.
"I like the way we competed tonight and I'm very proud of the fight that we put up," commented Elliott. "Nebraska has a lot of experience on their squad and there's a reason why they are number one."
In game one Texas and Nebraska battled early on, but a 5-0 UT rally paced by three Todd kills put the Horns in front, 10-4. The Huskers answered the Texas rally with a 3-0 run of their own, but could not close the margin until the 17-17 mark when Jordan Larson recorded a solo block to put Nebraska ahead by one. Todd and the Horns rallied with a 4-0 run of their own to push the UT advantage to 21-18, but Texas would fall behind again. Trailing 25-26, the Horns used four consecutive kills, two by Todd, to take a 29-26 lead. After a kill by Cooper, Todd connected on her eighth game one kill to finish off the Huskers, 30-27.
Texas fell behind quickly in the second stanza, committing four straight errors and allowing the Huskers to run off five straight points to grab a 7-2 lead. The Horns evened the tally at 9-9 on a kill by Engle, but that would be as close as Texas would get, as Nebraska ran off four straight points to grab a 28-20 lead late in the game and eventually finished off the Horns, 30-22, on a Holloway kill.
The Horns trailed again in game three before a pair of block assists by Leticia Armstrong and Michelle Moriarty put UT in front, 6-5. Texas would not look back from that point on, using six game three kills by Engle to push its lead to as many as seven. A 3-0 Texas run late in the game put the Horns ahead, 28-21, and consecutive kills by Moriarty and Todd closed out the game with UT on top, 30-22.
Texas notched a point at the 2-1 mark on a Nebraska service error, but it was all Nebraska to start game four, running off five straight points to take a commanding 7-1 lead. The Longhorns chipped away at the lead, narrowing the margin to four, but the Huskers managed to stave off the rally and pushed their lead to 21-11. Down but not out, UT responded with a 6-0 run, headlined by a pair of Acevedo points which cut the NU lead to 23-20. Nebraska managed to stretch its lead back to five at, 27-22 on a Texas service error. Two Pavan kills and a Larson block followed to close out the game and send the match to a fifth and decisive game.
Engle, Acevedo and Todd all joined Hooker in double figures with 14 kills apiece, with Todd hitting at a .241 clip for the match. Engle added 15 digs to her 14 kills to record her sixth consecutive kill/dig double-double. Moriarty posted an assist/dig double-double with 64 assists and 15 digs, while freshman Heather Kisner and Alyson Jennings anchored the defense with 19 and 12 digs respectively.
No. 9 Texas returns to action Saturday, October 21 when it hosts No. 23 Oklahoma at Gregory Gym. First serve is set for 6:30 p.m.