Hooker lifts No. 3 Volleyball to sweep of No. 18 Oklahoma
AUSTIN, Texas -- The third-ranked Texas Volleyball team hit at a .467 clip and recorded just six errors as the Longhorns swept past No. 18 Oklahoma, Wednesday night at Gregory Gymnasium. Sophomore outside hitter Destinee Hooker paced the Texas attack with 16 kills on .533 hitting and 12 digs.
Texas' 30-16, 30-18, 30-19 victory moved the Longhorns to 17-3 overall and 13-1 in Big 12 Conference play, while Oklahoma dropped to 18-6 and 10-4 in league play.
In game one, the Sooners kept the tally close, but the Longhorns put together a 6-0 run and pushed their lead to 15-9. Senior middle blocker Brandy Magee helped UT widen the margin later in the game, recording a kill and three block assists down the stretch to push Texas' edge to 28-14 and eventually cap the game, 30-16.
After trailing early in the second frame, Texas used a 6-1 run fueled by three kills and a solo block from junior middle blocker Lauren Paolini to claim an 11-4 advantage. The Longhorns stretched the lead to 11 at the 22-11 mark on a Hooker kill and closed out the stanza, 30-19 on an OU service error.
Texas dominated game three from the outset, using a 13-2 run to claim an early edge. Three points by freshman outside hitter Juliann Faucette paced the rally, while Hooker chipped in a solo block and a pair of kills. The Sooners narrowed the Horns' lead to eight at the 16-8 mark, but UT did not allow OU any closer, pushing the lead to 20-9 on two straight Sooners' miscues. Faucette connected for three kills down the stretch to maintain the lead and Paolini closed out the game, 30-20 with her 10th kill of the match.
Faucette joined Hooker in double figures with 12 kills on .320 hitting and added eight digs, three total blocks and two service aces. Paolini posted 10 kills and a .562 attack mark on the night, while contributing two solo and four total blocks. Sophomore opposite hitter Ashley Engle was the glue behind the Longhorns' sweep, recording eight kills, zero errors, a .471 hitting percentage, 12 digs, three total blocks, two assists and a service ace.
Texas out-blocked Oklahoma in the victory 12.5-to-3.0 and out-hit the Sooners .467-to-.138. The Longhorns six attack errors against the Sooners marked the fewest errors UT has committed in a match this season.
Texas returns to action at 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2 when it hosts Florida A&M in non-conference action at Gregory Gymnasium.
HEAD COACH Jerritt Elliott
On how good this team really is: Well I've felt from the beginning that this team had the ability get to the Final Four or National Championship. On the same token, however, this is the toughest competition there has ever been in Division I volleyball, and for how talented we are, there are other teams that can match us physically in the things that we can do. Tonight we had a physical advantage and a speed advantage, and our goal from the start has been to dominate opponents and play at a certain level. We need to work on our focus so we can play at a championship level every match.
On Lauren Paolini's play: I think Lauren was the hardest person to convince that she was special. I've always seen something in her from the recruiting side. She has great athleticism and I've never seen someone of her size move that well from her hips down in terms of her balance and speed. Her improvement is all attributed to her. She dedicated herself in the spring and improved her vertical almost 4.5 inches, and this summer she dedicated herself to play beach volleyball every day. She is becoming one of the dominant middle blockers in the nation, which I felt she was capable of early on in her career.
On expectations coming into the match: Usually we watch film early and then we watch film on game day, but today I elected to not watch film, but instead to talk about habits, preparation, focus and what is really on the line for this team. We spent about twenty minutes on that to let them know the importance of each match. I think the big thing for this group to understand is the level of focus and concentration that we had going into Nebraska is the level of focus that you try to train yourself to have habitually for every match. You know that now when you are playing Texas, with how hot we are, teams are going to come in with that level of preparation, and if we are not able to meet that mentality before the first serve, than we are already behind. We are really trying to understand those habits that are critical for our success.
JUNIOR MIDDLE BLOCKER Lauren Paolini
On getting more attention from opposing teams: I think as I play more games at the middle position teams have started to focus a little more on my position, but that's not always the case because we have two dominant outside hitters. Now, they just have to deal with the middles too, and with Ashley back, we have our full offensive force back.
SOPHOMORE OUTSIDE HITTER Destinee Hooker
SOPHOMORE OPPOSITE HITTER Ashley Engle
On the hype surrounding the team: That is just stuff that is said, but it doesn't really mean anything because any team can be upset at any time, so we try to block out all the talk. It's great to hear, it's great to have all the hype, but we need to get back in the gym and practice and keep improving our game because if we don't, then all that talk won't mean much.