No. 8 Volleyball advances to NCAA Regional with 3-0 win over SFA
AUSTIN, Texas -- The seventh-seeded Texas volleyball team advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons and the 19th time overall with a three-game sweep -- 30-16, 30-19, 30-21 -- of Stephen F. Austin on Saturday evening at Gregory Gym.
The Longhorns (23-6) will host NCAA Tournament Regional action next weekend, Dec. 8-9, at Gregory Gym and in the round of 16 will face Wisconsin, who the Horns defeated 3-0 (30-28, 30-18, 30-22) in Madison in the teams' opening match of the 2007 season. Stephen F. Austin (31-4) saw its 26-match winning streak snapped, and closed its season after participating in its third NCAA Tournament in program history.
Texas setter Michelle Moriarty recorded 46 assists and led the Longhorns to a .412 hitting percentage on the evening. Additionally, early in the third game, she set the new Texas career assists record, collecting her 4,251st assist to pass former record holder Jill Gremmel, who had 4,250 in her career at UT.
Three Longhorns recorded double-figure kills, led by Destinee Hooker's 17. Ashley Engle added 16 and hit .469 -- recording just one error on 32 swings -- and Dariam Acevedo had a double-double with 10 kills and 23 digs. Alyson Jennings added 17 digs in the victory.
Traci Rohde had 10 kills to lead SFA, while Stephanie Figgers had a team-best 17 digs. Shelly Swendig and Lauren Railey each had two aces.
Texas held the Ladyjacks to a .127 hitting percentage, and out-aced (7-4), out-blocked (6-2) and out-dug (63-40) the visitors in the win.
The two teams stayed close and opened the match tied at 4-4 before Texas put distance between itself and SFA with a 6-1 run. After Jennifer Todd swung for a kill off the Ladyjack's block to give UT a 7-5 lead, Engle served three-straight points to put the Longhorns up for good. Behind Engle -- and her nine kills in the first game -- the Longhorns built their lead to 11 points at 20-9. SFA then scored three straight points to pull within eight points, forcing Texas to call a time out. However, out of the timeout, the Longhorns scored four-straight points and closed the game on a 10-2 run to take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Tied at 8-8 in game two, the Longhorns strung together four quick points on an Acevedo kill, two Ladyjack errors and a Moriarty ace to put distance between the teams. Although Stephen F. Austin got back within two points three times -- the last at 15-13 -- Texas used an 8-2 run to extend its lead to eight points at 23-15, capped by another Moriarty ace. Hooker had a kill to push the lead to 25-16 and then served four more UT points as the lead extended to 12 at 28-16. Kills by JJ Jones, Lauren Railey and Traci Rohde cut the UT lead to nine points at 28-19, but Engle put down her 15th kill of the night and Kiley Hall checked in to serve the game-ending ace and send the Longhorns into the intermission with a 2-0 lead in the match.
Moriarty set the UT career assists record at 4-0 in game three and the Longhorns extended their lead to 7-1 behind Moriarty and Hooker's serving. A Moriarty kill pushed Texas' lead to 11-6, before Jennings served seven straight points, including two aces, to extend the lead to 18-6. SFA attempted to climb back into the game with four quick points on Swendig's service, which included two aces, and cut UT's lead to 21-12, but the Longhorns regained a 10-point cushion at 24-12 with kills from Hooker, Lauren Paolini and Acevedo. At 28-16 and two points from advancing to the round of 16, the Longhorns committed four straight errors before Acevedo's 10th kill of the night gave them match point. Hooker capped the evening with a kill to send the Longhorns through to the next round.
Tickets for next weekend's NCAA Regional action at Gregory Gym can be purchased online at TexasBoxOffice.com, by calling by 1-800-982-BEVO or 512-471-3333, or in person at the UT Athletics Ticket Office (Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.). All-session ticket packages are $20 for reserved seating, $12 for general admission seating, $6 for youth/students tickets and $10 each for groups of 10 or more.
Friday's round of 16 matches in Austin will be played at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Saturday's regional championship will start at 5 p.m., and be seen live on ESPNU. The winner of Saturday's regional championship will advance to the NCAA Tournament Final Four, which will be played in Omaha, Neb., Thursday and Saturday, Dec. 14 and 16.
On having their 26 match winning streak broken: It's not emotional because the winning streak is broken. It's emotional because this is a great group of people and this was our last opportunity to be able to step out on the court together.
Stephen F. Austin Outside Hitter Traci Rohde
Texas Head Coach Jerritt Elliott
On how they prepared for the game: We've been preparing all week for this. Early on Monday, we had a team meeting to talk about preparing for the NCAA tournament. If you understand the tournament, upsets are a part of this tournament. We told our team that any players or teams that look past an opponent would be foolish. It's very important for us to take one opponent at a time, and we knew we were playing a team that's very well-coached and had an excellent defense. I really like our team's demeanor right now. They aren't talking about who we can beat down the road, but talking about the match at hand. That's important to be a championship team.
Texas Outside Hitter Destinee Hooker
Texas setter Michelle Moriarty
On the performance by the middle blockers: We had a great rhythm with the middles tonight, and I really wanted to get them going. I really wanted to balance the offense, and I think we did a good job hitting behind tonight.