No. 9 Volleyball outlasts No. 23 Oklahoma, 3-2
AUSTIN, Texas -- After winning games one and two the No. 9 Texas Volleyball team fought off No. 23 Oklahoma's victories in game three and four to drop the Sooners, 3-2 (30-27, 30-25, 27-30, 25-30, 15-11), Saturday night at Gregory Gym. Freshman outside hitter Destinee Hooker set a new career high in kills, with her 26-kill performance, hitting at a .364 clip and posting five blocks.
Texas (13-5, 8-3 Big 12) grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in game five on two consecutive block assists by Hooker, who teamed with Michelle Moriarty and Lauren Paolini to give the Horns a lead they would hold for the duration of the frame. Oklahoma (17-4, 9-2 Big 12) evened the tally at two and the two teams traded points until Texas forged ahead, using a 4-1 run capped by a Hooker kill that put the Horns in front, 10-6.
The Horns extended their lead to 12-7 on an Ashley Engle, Leticia Armstrong block and maintained a five-point advantage at the 14-9 mark, when Armstrong and Moriarty blocked Joanna Schmitt's attack to force match point. The Sooners tallied two straight points on Texas errors before a Schmitt service error lifted the Longhorns to a 15-11 game five victory.
"I feel like we came out tonight really confident and ready to avenge our loss to OU earlier this season," Moriarty said. "We were ready to play and I fell like our entire match was better this time around."
"I give all the credit to Michelle (Moriarty) tonight," Hooker commented. "She worked really hard and we connected well."
Oklahoma started game one on an 8-2 run, that was highlighted by a pair of Schmitt and Eliane Santos kills. The Sooners then stretched the margin to its largest gap, when they gained a nine-point advantage on a Santos kill at the 19-10 mark. Hooker and the Horns answered the hot OU start with a 4-0 rally that trimmed the Sooners margin to 20-15. The freshman then added two more kills as part of a second 5-0 run that evened the score at 24 apiece.
The Sooners briefly regained the lead, but a 3-0 run paced by an Ashley Engle kill and a pair of OU miscues gave the Longhorns a 27-25 edge. A Hooker kill and block solo by junior Jen Christian closed out the match with Texas on top, 30-27. In the game, Hooker tallied eight kills on .333 hitting to lead the UT comeback.
In game two Texas relinquished its early advantage midway through the game, but rallied from behind to grab a 20-19 edge on one of Engle's seven game-two kills. The Horns moved the margin to three points and then blew the game open with a 4-0 lead, paced by back-to-back kills by Engle and Christian late in the game that gave UT a 29-23 lead. Two points later, Christian hammered out her fifth kill of the game to close out the game, 30-25, putting Texas ahead, 2-0.
Texas forged ahead quickly in game three and it held the lead until a ball handling error gave Oklahoma its first lead of the game at the 22-21 mark. Engle and Armstrong helped UT rally back to grab a 25-24 lead, but it would be short-lived, as OU moved ahead to claim a 28-25 lead on three Longhorns errors late in the game, and closed out game three, 30-27, on a Schmitt kill.
The Horns used a 5-0 run early in game four, claiming a 6-2 advantage on an ace by Lauren Paolini. Texas added to its lead with a 5-1 run capped by an Armstrong, Moriarty block that gave UT an 11-4 edge. Oklahoma battled back midway through the game, using a 7-2 run to even the score at 17-17. The scored remained close until OU put together a 4-0 run late that put the Sooners ahead, 27-22. The margin would prove to be insurmountable as Oklahoma closed out the game with a 3-0 run to even the match at two games apiece.
"We came out really tough tonight, and though mistakes were made, we refocused and I'm very pleased with our performance," noted head coach Jerritt Elliott.
Hooker highlighted the Horns attack with a career and match-high 26 kills on .364 hitting, while Engle recorded her sixth straight kill/dig double-double with her 22-kill, 10-dig performance. Christian joined them in double figures, coming off the bench to spark the Horns with 10 kills and five digs. Moriarty once again steadied the Horns with 67 assists and 10 digs.
No. 9 Texas returns to action Wednesday, Oct. 25 when it travels to Lubbock, Texas to take on Texas Tech. First serve is set for 7 p.m.