No. 3 Volleyball claims first Big 12 title in 10 years with 3-0 win over No. 12 Kansas State
AUSTIN, Texas -- The third-ranked Texas Volleyball team used a 19-kill effort by freshman outside hitter Juliann Faucette to knock of No. 12 Kansas State, 3-0 and clinch a share of the Big 12 Conference Championship, Saturday night at Gregory Gymnasium. Texas shares the conference title with Nebraska, marking the first time UT has won a piece of the Big 12 Championship since 1997. The Longhorns 30-25, 30-19, 30-26 victory moved UT to 24-3 on the year and 19-1 in the Big 12, while KSU fell to 22-8 and 14-6 in league play.
Faucette recorded a kill/dig double-double, adding 11 digs, a .500 hitting percentage and three total blocks to her all-around performance. Sophomore opposite hitter Ashley Engle added 11 kills on .400 hitting and tallied six digs and five total blocks.
After notching victories in the first two games, Texas used an early 7-0 run in game three to leap out to an 11-5 lead. Faucette highlighted the rally with three kills and a solo block in a five-point span. The Longhorns then pushed the edge to nine at the 19-10 mark courtesy of two KSU errors and a kill by sophomore outside hitter Destinee Hooker. The Wildcats battled back late to narrow the edge to three at the 27-24 mark, but Engle recorded a block and game-ending kill down the stretch to pace UT to a 30-26 win.
In game one, Texas fell behind 4-0 to start the game and did not own the lead until the 13-12 mark, when Magee gave UT its first edge with a service ace. The Wildcats reclaimed the lead briefly, but a 4-0 Longhorns' run fueled by kills from Faucette and Engle gave UT a 20-17 advantage. A second 4-0 rally highlighted by a pair of Engle kills pushed the edge to 24-18. Kansas State closed the gap late in the game, however, Faucette's fifth kill of the game closed out the frame, 30-18.
The Longhorns controlled the second stanza from the outset, using three kills by junior middle blocker Lauren Paolini to claim an 8-7 edge. Texas pushed its lead to 12-8 behind a pair of kills from Faucette and used a 7-1 run capped by two Faucette kills to move the tally to 23-13. Engle helped the Horns push their lead to 12 at the 28-16 mark with a solo block, before Faucette closed out the game with a kill that lifted Texas to a 30-18 game-two win.
Senior setter Michelle Moriarty steadied the Longhorns offense on senior night, recording 47 assists, six digs and leading UT to a .408 attack mark in her final regular season performance at Gregory Gymnasium. Hooker tallied eight kills on .333 hitting in the win, while Paolini added seven kills and a .778 attack mark. Senior libero Alyson Jennings highlighted the defense with a match-high 14 digs and Magee led UT at the net with seven total blocks.
The Longhorns now await their NCAA Tournament fate, which will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU.
On being a number one seed: I think we have put in the work to do it. The bottom line is that we are going to be a high seed and we are going to have face some really good teams. We can't put our hopes on being a number one seed and then be disappointed, we have to stay focused. Whoever is in front of us is someone we have to knock off to reach our ultimate goal of the Final Four and be in contention for the championship."
On Juliann Faucette's play: We've been trying to rest her a little bit. She has been extremely committed. She's a winner when the game is on the line. We have a lot of faith in her. She has put up the numbers to be the Big 12 Freshman of the Year and the National Freshman of the Year, but those are individual accolades. She wants a national championship more than anything.
FRESHMAN OUTSIDE HITTER Juliann Faucette
On the first game: I just felt really connected with everyone on the team. I struggled a bit at the beginning and my teammates were there. Every single person on the team was like; you're fine, next play and that helped. Going into every game I was mentally prepared for whatever they hit at me. I wasn't concerned with errors or what I was doing I just felt in rhythm with Michelle.
SENIOR SETTER Michelle Moriarty
On winning the Big 12 Championship: It was our goal, me and the other seniors, when we came in. For four years now that is what we have been working for and we finally get it. It is amazing.
On a tough win in Texas' last match at Iowa State: I think it was a wake-up call. I think it obviously shows it was a really good thing for us. We kind of got to a point where we were cruising instead of actually playing to our best level every night. I think it kind of showed that we have to play to our best ability every night.
On what they can work on: I think the thing we have had to work on the whole year is consistency. It showed in games a little bit we would come out and play well the first two games and then kind of let down a little bit. I think we have gotten a lot better at stringing three games together and I think that is going to be huge for us. It's just getting in control of the match and then staying in control of it.
SOPHOMORE OPPOSITE HITTER Ashley Engle