Volleyball opens NCAA Tournament with sweep of Texas State
AUSTIN, Texas -- The No. 6 national seed and 11th-ranked Texas volleyball team used double-figure kills from three players as they defeated Texas State 30-12, 30-22, 30-15 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, played at UT's Gregory Gym, on Friday night. The Longhorns will face Michigan in the second round at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at Gregory.
With the victory, Texas improved to 21-0 in opening-round NCAA Tournament matches. The match was the first NCAA match for the Horns since 2002 and the first time Texas has hosted first and second rounds since 1999.
Senior All-American, Big 12 Player of the Year and National Player of the Year candidate Mira Topic (Kastela Kambelovac, Croatia) had a double-double with a match-high 18 kills and added 10 digs, while senior All-American Bethany Howden (Austin, Texas) had 14 kills and sophomore Brandy Magee (Mission Viejo, Calif.) had 12 and a .632 hitting percentage. Sophomore Dariam Acevedo (Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) added seven kills, and freshman Jen Christian (Gilbert, Ariz.) had six.
UT had eight aces to the visitors' one as freshman Sarah Holloway (Aurora, Colo.) had a career-high five in the match. Topic capped the third game with a match-ending ace.
"We executed well tonight," Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "Generally, in the NCAA Tournament, players play with a lot of nerves, but we were really good about our emotions and were able to play well.
"Winning the serve and pass game is critical, and we have been working a lot here in the last week on both phases of our game. Tonight's Sarah's serve was really on. Her serving has been dropping well with a little bit of spin on it. She had a pretty good feel for it tonight. And she likes the quick serve and is ready to go right after that whistle blows to try to catch the opponent off-guard."
Texas (25-4) out-hit Texas State, .526 to .210, in the match. The Bobcats (27-6) were led by Elizabeth Nwoke's 11 kills. Kristy Jones had 11 digs for Texas State.
Texas had no problem in the first game, hitting .531 and collecting 21 kills, a feat it would match in the second game. Topic had eight of her 18 kills come in the first stanza, before Howden took over in the second and third games, collecting 10 of her 14 kills.
In the final game, Texas collected only 16 kills, but hit .640 in the game with no attack errors, and also benefited from three blocks and five Bobcat attack errors.
The Longhorns will face the Wolverines at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. Tickets to the match are $7 for general admission tickets and $5 for student and senior citizens and are available at the Gregory ticket office beginning at 5:30 p.m.
On serve and pass game: Winning the serve and pass game is critical and we have really been working in the past week on our serving game. I think we did a good job serving tonight and on the reception end, I felt like we passed the ball extremely well.
On balance: Our offense has been solid all year, but tonight - and in the NCAA's - you really have to play defense and play the serve and receive game well. I feel like we did both of those tonight.
Texas Sophomore Middle Blocker Brandy Magee
Texas Senior Outside Hitter Mira Topic
Texas State Head Coach Karen Chisum
On their season: We have achieved every goal that we set this year. This year we talked about our goal to win 25 matches and I think we won 27. It was not just about winning the Southland Conference, but making it to the NCAAs. Hats off to my seniors and the legacy that they have left.
On how far Texas has come: Jerritt Elliott has done a tremendous job. (Assistant coaches) Tonya (Johnson) and Brian (Hosfeld) are 10 times as good as they were last year. We'll be glad when Mira (Topic) and Bethany (Howden) are gone, fortunately. We have got to play three to five inches taller, not just higher above the net, but a much quicker tempo. That's the key; they're just a much quicker team than what we have been accustomed to playing all year long.
Texas State Senior MB Kacee Rogers
Texas State Senior S Krystal Kolkhorst
On the seniors' last season: We've been on cloud nine for the past two weeks, having the season we had and ending it the way we did winning our conference tournament. Our goal this year was to make the NCAA tournament and we did that. Tonight was a disappointment but our season has been anything but a disappointment. Bringing our program from where it was the past two years, winning back-to-back conference championships and making the NCAA tournament, which was our goal this year, it's been really fun for us.