No. 3 Volleyball sweeps past Texas State in NCAA First Round
AUSTIN, Texas -- The third-ranked and fourth-seeded Texas Volleyball used a .494 team hitting percentage to sweep Texas State, 3-0, in the first round of NCAA Tournament play, Friday night at Gregory Gymnasium. The Longhorns' 30-21, 30-20, 30-13 victory advanced Texas to a second round match up with LSU, which defeated New Mexico State, 3-2, in first round action.
The victory improves the Longhorns season mark to 25-3, while the Bobcats finished their season 21-12. Texas' team hitting percentage was a season-best and ranks fourth highest all-time at UT. Junior middle blocker Lauren Paolini paced the Horns to victory with 12 kills on .800 hitting, while senior middle blocker Brandy Magee registered 10 kills on .833 hitting. Sophomore outside hitter Destinee Hooker chipped in 12 kills, a .524 attack mark and tied a career-high with four solo blocks.
In game one, Texas State kept the score close and claimed its first lead of the game at the 19-18 mark. The Longhorns battled back to reclaim the lead at the 21-20 mark and used a 9-0 run highlighted by a pair of aces by sophomore opposite hitter Ashley Engle to close out the frame, 30-21.
Texas jumped out with a 5-2 run to start the second stanza on a block by Engle, Paolini and Hooker and stretched the lead to 10-4 on a service ace by Hooker. The Horns pushed the lead to nine at the 17-8 mark and widened the margin to 11 on a Texas State error at the 27-16 mark. Texas eventually closed out the game, 30-20 on Magee's fourth kill of the game.
The Longhorns broke a three-all tie early in the third frame, putting together a 14-1 run paced by four kills and two solo blocks by Hooker that put UT ahead, 17-4. Texas widened the margin to 15 on an Engle kill at the 24-9 mark and used a solo block and a kill by Hooker down the stretch to seal the victory, 30-13.
Senior setter Michelle Moriarty steadied the Texas attack on the night with 44 assists and five digs, while freshman outside hitter Juliann Faucette highlighted the defense with a match-high nine digs. Faucette added nine kills and Engle tallied eight kills on .368 hitting in the Longhorns' victory.
Texas returns to action at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1 when it takes on LSU in the NCAA Second Round.
On Juliann Faucette's play in her first NCAA game: She told me today that I can call her "NCAA J." I think she was pretty excited to be a part of it. She is a rare freshman. We've been very fortunate these last few years with Ashley (Engle) and now Juliann to have someone who is as talented as that, as mentally tough and who loves to play on center stage. In terms of being a competitor and dealing with the anxiety of playing center stage, she welcomes that, and that is very comforting for me as a coach.
On the competition of the upcoming rounds: It's exciting. The tournament is about surviving, advancing and finding ways to win to get to that next level. Our next focus and our only focus right now is LSU. Each step that you take the competition continues to get tougher and tougher. I personally believe this is the strongest competition the NCAA tournament has ever assembled. The top teams are very competitive. Rally scoring has changed our sport a lot in terms of allowing more upsets, so it's exciting and it's big advantage to be at home. We had a great crowd tonight. We have a lot of respect for LSU and Fran Flory is a UT alum. They are a very capable team and a very scary team.
JUNIOR MIDDLE BLOCKER Lauren Paolini
SOPHOMORE OUTSIDE HITTER Destinee Hooker
SENIOR SETTER Michelle Moriarty
On the play of the middles: I think this has been a common theme with our middles. They have done a great job all season long. We have been talking about getting more sets to the middle and they do a good job of being available for me, so that makes my job of getting the ball to them easy. They did a great job tonight and they put up some really good numbers. Even against the double block they were able to put the ball away which is great for me as a setter.
TEXAS STATE HEAD COACH KAREN CHISUM
On keeping up with Texas in the first game: We played them point-for-point for a while, but then we had two mental errors and it went downhill. Unfortunately we have been a high-error team all season, but we are a young team and we will be getting better. This is a very talented group, but we also have to work on our mental game. I am very proud of these kids and I don't want anybody to take anything away from what they have accomplished getting here, going into our conference tournament as the number five seed.
JUNIOR OUTSIDE HITTER LAWRENCIA BROWN
JUNIOR MIDDLE BLOCKER EMILY JONES