No. 4 Volleyball rolls past Texas Tech, 3-0
Nov. 12, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas -- The fourth-ranked Texas Volleyball team used an 11-kill, 10-dig performance from sophomore All-America outside hitter Juliann Faucette as it swept Texas Tech, 3-0, Wednesday night. The Longhorns' 25-9, 25-20, 25-15 victory improved the Longhorns to 20-3 on the year and 13-2 in the Big 12, while the Red Raiders fell to 5-21 overall and 0-15 in league action.
In the first set, Texas overwhelmed Texas Tech, limiting the Red Raiders to just nine points to mark only the fourth time UT has held an opponent under 10 points in the rally scoring era. Tech kept the tally tight in the early going, but a 4-0 run capped by a block from freshman setter Michelle Kocher and sophomore middle blocker Jennifer Doris gave the Horns a 10-5 lead. At the 14-8 mark, Texas ran off an 11-1, run headlined by two kills and a block from junior All-America opposite hitter Ashley Engle, to end the frame, 25-9.
The Longhorns trailed temporarily in the second stanza, but a 6-0 run, highlighted by two service aces from senior defensive specialist Kiley Hall and two kills by senior All-America middle blocker Lauren Paolini, gave the Horns a 21-14 lead. Tech narrowed the margin to four before a kill by freshman outside hitter Amber Roberson sealed the set, 25-20.
The Longhorns leapt out to an early lead in the third frame and used a kill by Faucette and a service ace by junior libero Heather Kisner to push the UT edge to 15-10. Texas added to its lead with a 6-0 run headlined by a Kocher-Rachael Adams block that moved the tally to 22-13. A pair of kills down the stretch from junior All-America outside hitter Destinee Hooker helped UT earn the 25-15 set win.
Texas returns to action Saturday, Nov. 15 when it travels to Manhattan, Kan. to take on No. 14 Kansas State. First serve is set for 7 p.m.
On the strong performance tonight and what they did poorly in the closer sets: We talked about preparation and I had a pretty firm talk with them before the match about the urgency of this match and being able to create a rhythm. Coming into tonight we had five matches left in the Big 12, and that's what it takes to win a national championship - winning six in a row. So, I talked to them about learning how to put back-to-back matches together. Subs in volleyball make a big difference in terms of continuity and rhythm. Our passing really struggled in the second game. We came in and didn't pass smoothly and made seven uncharacteristic hitting errors. When your passing breaks down, it makes things more difficult than when we are passing well, like we did in game one. It's a matter of some rhythm stuff and transitioning when Ashley [Engle] is not in there. There's a bit more chaos and different rhythms to the ball.
On Michelle Kocher's performance so far this season: She's done a nice job. There's obviously a lot of adjusting to do in this game and there are a lot of little intricacies that she's been working on. She has been learning to stay relaxed and identify the things that she has available to herself as a setter and finding where the good swings are. But, she's done a really nice job. She's had some ups and downs, but I think everyone on this team has. She's done spectacular for us as a freshman coming in with a huge responsibility.
On the differences between last year and this year's team: We had a little bit more experience last year with a senior libero and a senior setter. Those are the big differences. We've got some players now that have grown up another year in [Lauren] Paolini, Ashley [Engle] and our two left side hitters. Our ball control is a little bit different. There have been different responsibilities, but they are working through that. Losing Alyson [Jennings] was a big loss and Heather [Kisner] has stepped in really nicely. We're working to continue our ball control. I think our numbers are pretty similar in terms of offense from a year ago to defense from a year ago. So there are not a whole lot of differences in regards of our performance on an average.
On how important the rest of the season is: We've got some big tests coming up. We have a big match against Kansas State on the road coming up. We had a big match at Iowa State that I thought we responded really well to. But, you need to get yourself in those positions, and the nice thing is that we have the potential to go all the way to the "Sweet 16" or the "Elite Eight" if we can get that far. This is a team that has the potential to reach a "Final Four," but they have to go out and earn that. They have to stay united, committed and make some big plays in the clutch.
JUNIOR OPPOSITE HITTER Ashley Engle
JUNIOR OUTSIDE HITTER Destinee Hooker
SENIOR MIDDLE BLOCKER Lauren Paolini
On the difference between last year and this year: With last year, I don't know if we peaked earlier in the season, but I felt it did go smoother and it was easier for us. But I think struggling in some areas this year has helped us because we have that fight within our team to keep getting better. Last year, when we got to the NCAA tournament and we didn't have our best game, we didn't know how to fight out of that because we didn't really experience that kind of struggle.