Engle and Todd lift No. 8 Volleyball past No. 25 Missouri
AUSTIN, Texas -- After dropping game one, the eighth-ranked Texas Volleyball team rallied back to win three straight games and down No. 25 Missouri, 3-1 (29-31, 30-23, 30-27, 30-12), Saturday night at Gregory Gym. In the match, freshman outside hitter Ashley Engle hammered out 24 kills on .447 hitting, while equaling a career-high with 19 digs. Senior middle blocker Jennifer Todd recorded a career-high 16 kills and hit at a .382 clip in the UT victory.
Texas (19-5, 14-3 Big 12) held Missouri (15-10, 9-7 Big 12) to a season-low single-game point total in the fourth game, knocking off the Tigers 30-12. The Horns opened game four on a 5-1 run, with senior Dariam Acevedo connecting on a pair of kills, and Engle tallying two points on an ace and a kill. Texas stretched its lead to eight at the 13-5 mark, using a 6-1 run capped by back-to-back solo blocks by sophomore middle blocker Lauren Paolini.
Engle and fellow freshman Destinee Hooker headlined the UT attack down the stretch, leading the Horns on a 14-3 run that included a 7-0 run to close out the match. During the run, Engle posted a pair of kills and combined on two block assists, while Hooker hammered out four kills, including the match-ending point.
"Our game has really improved since the last time we played Missouri," Engle said. "We really stepped up tonight and stayed consistent."
"We are a completely different team than we were at (Missouri's) place," Engle continued. "We have matured a lot as a team and we can totally trust each other on the court."
In the first game, Texas jumped out to a 9-4 lead on three Todd kills and three points from Paolini. The Horns held the lead until the Tigers put together a 5-0 run late in the game to take a 22-21 advantage. Texas and Mizzou traded points until the Tigers used three straight points to claim a 28-25 edge. Paolini, Engle and Dariam Acevedo brought UT back with three consecutive kills and knotted the score at 28-28. A Texas service error gave the Mizzou a 30-29 lead and a solo block by Jessica Vander Kooi pushed the final tally to 31-29.
Both teams struggled to start game two, with the teams committing a total of eight errors in the first 11 points. With Texas leading 7-4, the Tigers rallied to pull within one at the 8-7 mark. The Horns responded with a 3-0 run of their own that included two kills and a block assist by Engle. Another Engle kill and a MU error extended the UT lead to six at the 16-10 mark, and a three point run at the 20-16 mark moved the Horns edge to, 23-16. Missouri closed the lead to six at 28-22, but that would be as close as they would get, as two Hooker kills sealed the game 30-23 for Texas.
Texas trailed early in the third stanza, but two points by Hooker and a kill by Engle evened the tally at five apiece. After falling behind again, Texas used a 3-0 run paced by a kill and a block assist by Paolini to take a 16-15 lead. The Horns maintained a two point advantage until the 21-19 mark when Todd connected for two kills, as part of a 3-0 run that moved the tally to 24-19. Missouri narrowed the margin to two at 28-26, but a Tigers error and an Engle kill gave UT a 30-27 victory.
"We are blocking much better and our middles did an excellent job mixing shots and getting their hands on Missouri attacks," head coach Jerritt Elliott noted. "Jen Todd is playing some of her best volleyball right now, and as we've been working with Paolini in practice, we have tremendous confidence in the middle blocker position."
Engle highlighted the Horns on the night with her 13th kill/dig double-double of the season, while Todd posted a new career-high kill total. Hooker and Paolini joined them in double figures with 12 and 11 kills respectively, with Paolini tallying 10 total blocks. Junior setter Michelle Moriarty paced the offense with 65 assists and 10 digs, while Alyson Jennings and Acevedo registered 17 and 16 digs respectively. Texas out-blocked Mizzou on the night 18.5-to-12.
Texas returns to action Wednesday, Nov. 15 when it travels to Manhattan, Kan. to take on the Kansas State Wildcats. First serve is set for 7 p.m.