No. 3 seed Volleyball defeats Texas A&M, 3-1, in second round of 2012 NCAA Tournament
Nov. 30, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- With 17 kills apiece, junior All-America outside hitter Bailey Webster and sophomore All-America outside hitter Haley Eckerman led the No. 3 Texas Longhorns to a four-set win (25-16, 19-25, 25-19, 25-18) against the Texas A&M Aggies on Friday night in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns advance to the NCAA Austin Regional next Friday and Saturday (Dec. 7-8) in Gregory Gym.
Webster, who finished with 32 kills in two NCAA Tournament matches, recorded three blocks tonight for Texas (25-4). Eckerman hit .342 for the Longhorns with four digs and two blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Khat Bell hit .421 on 11 kills with two digs and four blocks while junior setter Hannah Allison had 48 assists and nine digs as the Longhorns hit .389 for the match.
Texas has won 11 straight matches in Gregory Gym against Texas A&M, dating back to the 2001 season (head coach Jerritt Elliott's first season at UT).
Tori Mellinger led Texas A&M (25-6) with 13 kills and a .393 performance. Alisia Kastmo added 11 kills and four digs as the Aggies hit .248 in the match.
Texas came out for set one swinging hard and with balance. Three Longhorns earned four or more kills in the set, including Webster, who had five in the set on seven attempts with no errors. The Aggies kept it close, however, narrowing Texas' lead to one. With the score at 11-10, the Horns tallied eight straight, including three in a row from Webster.
Momentum seemed to swing in the Aggies' favor early in the second when Texas A&M recorded four straight points for a 5-1 lead. Later, up 12-8, Texas A&M launched a 5-1 streak for a margin Texas would not overcome.
The third set was a back-and-forth battle that featured eight tied scores until Texas overtook Texas A&M, 15-14. Sparked by solid hitting, including five kills from Webster, the Horns took control and finished the set with a kill from Sha'Dare McNeal. Texas connected on 14 of 21 with three errors for a .524 team hitting percentage in the third.
Tied at seven in the fourth, Texas launched a 7-1 run for a 14-7 lead. Aided by seven kills from Eckerman as well as three straight points scored by Molly McCage, the Horns concluded the match with a kill from Allison.
Texas will face the winner of Florida/College of Charleston next Friday (Dec. 7) at 7 p.m. USC, which won its second-round match earlier tonight, will face the winner of Kansas/Wichita State in the other match on Friday at 5 p.m. The NCAA Austin Regional final will take place on Saturday (Dec. 8) at 8 p.m. Gametracker live stats will be available on TexasSports.com with live Twitter updates @TexasVolleyball.
Notes: Texas is now 71-23 all-time against Texas A&M and 36-5 in Austin...Texas is 4-1 all-time against Texas A&M in NCAA post-season play...Texas is now 13-5 all-time in NCAA second-round play and has won eight straight second-round matches...Texas advances to the NCAA third round for the 19th time since 1982...Hannah Allison now has 2,667 career assists and trails Michelle Kocher (2008-11) for eighth place on the UT career list...in her last five matches, Bailey Webster is averaging 4.44 kills per set and hitting .518.
TAMU 16-25-19-18 TEXAS 25-19-25-25
Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott
Opening Statement: Congrats to Texas A&M on a great season, they played extremely well tonight, it was a battle we were definitely tested at home. I would like to thank the fans for coming out to support us and the administration that has been supportive as well. Game one was pretty smooth. Game two, we went in a hole, our speed and ball control got off and we got anxious. As all season has proven, our team is steady and battles when the game is on the line. I was pleased with it. Sha'Dare (McNeal) came out and did some nice things. Bailey Webster played extremely well. We had a very good offense. The numbers show that we were very efficient which is important if you want to advance in this tournament. We certainly plan to do that. We are honored to represent the University of Texas as we approach the NCAA Regional.
On the second set: We got anxious in the second half. We got anxious to the point where we needed to slow the tempo down rather than pushing the tempo up. We made some adjustments, players came in. I thought Nicole Dalton did a nice job and I thought (Kat) Brooks did a nice job controlling us. We flipped the lineup to get some different match ups. We are going to take some hits; just for about 10-15 points than we got some aces. We steadied out, I thought we had a chance at coming back but we had some swings that we did not convert on. Texas A&M put some pressure on but the most important thing is that we turned it around after the break.
We are one of the most physical teams in the country, but with your physicality we are not as good with ball control. We have got to be able to find that balance. We are using power to win games, while other teams like Texas A&M are more controlled with the ball. We will see if our ball control and defense can get better.
On continuing the tournament at Texas: That is fantastic to be home. We need the fans to come out and support us, they were very loud and great tonight. It was a big help in this victory. It is important for the players to get some rest so that they can compete against next week at a very high level.
On the competitiveness of the regionals: Every match you start to see more physical players. If it is Florida, it will be a battle. It will be a challenge. We have to play great and in order to do that we will have to have the crowd here.
Junior outside hitter Bailey Webster
On Texas' effort tonight: We were playing together and got into our groove, it started with the passing. When the passing is good we are really good together. Hannah (Allison) did a great job disturbing the ball. Once we got into our groove it was easy to get kills.
On Texas A&M winning the second set: We needed a set to regroup and refocus, which we were able to do during the half time. It worked out well for us.
Sophomore outside hitter Haley Eckerman
On playing Texas A&M: It is always great to play Texas A&M. It was great to get the crowd involved, to be challenged, and have a great match against the Aggies.
On Texas effort tonight: We did a good job of telling each other what was open, especially Sarah Palmer. We were great in communication.
Texas A&M Head Coach Laurie Corbelli
Opening Statement: Obviously, we are disappointed but we are really proud of the season we had. We were on a ten game winning streak coming in. I am incredibly proud of the players. I am particularly proud of the seniors, they have done so much for this program for so many years. We just spent ten minutes making sure that each one of them got recognized and thanked for their effort.
On the change in the second set: The game started to change when serving had been sharp and confident. Serving and passing are the two fundamental parts of our game, when those things are strong and each player knows that every teammate is on board and confident, it is worth ten points almost. It is like putting the other team out of their system, although it is hard to put Texas out of their system because they set the bar so high. It is not really a system but a high set bar so even if the pass is on the net you are going against a hitter. We tried to put up pressure and defend.
On her team's effort: I am proud of the team. Sierra Patrick, for instance, our new freshman; that position has been a rollercoaster for us all year long. We have put five different girls in that spot and for her to rise to the top at this time of year and have not such a great match last night, but we had faith in her and put her back in. I know she is a gamer, she says she is a gamer, because she definitely does not like practice. She got out there and went after it with no fear. She even spoke on the bench, which freshmen typically don't do. In a time out with five seniors surrounding her and she was the one saying what she needed to say to them. I saw some really great things. I am proud of the team.
On Texas as a team: They are the No. 3 team for a reason; they have the power that I really haven't seen. There are some teams that have pieces of that but they [Texas] are able to put them all together.
On the message to the seniors following the game: Stephanie Minnerly who was taken out last night for the freshman Shelby Sullivan, but tonight was Minnerly's night to go out. She has been in the program for 10 semesters. She came in early from high school to try to earn a spot, she did not earn a spot. Second season, she did not earn a spot, got beat out by a younger player. Third season, she had an injury. Fourth season, she starts the season but gets beat out and yet she is one of my hardest workers; in the weight room and the gym. She busts her tail in academics. And here she is in her senior year, I have three new studs. She has refused to give that spot up; she got an MVP award in a tournament earlier this season. When I do speeches, I will always bring her story up because I am proud and honored, she is the epitome of a student-athlete. The senior class is leaving a great legacy. The seven freshman have those five to be the example of what we are trying to do here as a program. I could not have asked for a better senior class, I shared those thoughts in the locker room.
Senior outside hitter/libero Tori Mellinger
Our team was connected on all cylinders, our block was solid which made the defense really easy to play behind and all of our hitters were going. We did make many errors, which either helped us out or not. It was team volleyball; we were playing together and having fun; that was our main goal coming into the game. It was an old rivalry which is always fun.
On the early aces in the second set: Quick turnarounds are always awesome especially after losing. We wanted to get up as quickly as possible, we got up and stayed up.
Junior outside hitter Heather Reynolds
On her number of digs: It was different but we have been working a lot with guys coming into the practice hitting the ball hard. My mind set was to be fearless and to go for it. That is the way I approached the match today. We were definitely on a roll coming into this match, everyone on the team was confident including the bench. We came into this match not thinking but knowing we would win, that is the mindset you have to have when you are trying to advance to the NCAA tournament.
It was more of an NCAA atmosphere than a rivalry. The crowd was crazy, which is always awesome to play in front of. Seeing the banners with the NCAA logo is awesome. We approached the match not thinking about the rivalry, but thinking about advancing to the Regional.