No. 2 Volleyball sweeps TCU, advances to NCAA Omaha Regional
Dec. 4, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- The second-ranked Texas Volleyball team used a 21-kill, 13-dig performance by senior All-America outside hitter Destinee Hooker to sweep past TCU and advance to the NCAA Omaha Regional. The Longhorns' 25-15, 25-14, 25-18 victory improved UT to 26-1 on the season and dropped the Horned Frogs to 27-7. The win advances Texas to an NCAA Regional for the fourth-straight season.
Hooker took 33 swings on the night, committed one error and hit .606, en route to her match-high kill total. Junior All-America outside hitter Juliann Faucette added 10 kills in the victory and senior All-America setter/opposite Ashley Engle posted 30 assists, nine kills, seven digs and hit .467.
In the first set, a pair of early kills by Engle gave Texas a quick 6-3 edge, but TCU kept the tally tight until late in the frame. Hooker headlined a 6-1 UT rally down the stretch, hammering out four kills to push the Horns' advantage to 23-14. A double-block by Faucette and freshman utility player Sha'Dare McNeal and a TCU miscue closed out the set 25-15.
Texas took charge to start the second stanza, taking advantage of an 8-1 run fueled by a pair of kills from freshman outside hitter Bailey Webster and two points from McNeal that put UT in front 12-5. TCU rallied to shrink the margin to five, but Texas was too strong late in the frame as sophomore middle blocker Rachael Adams notched two kills and combined with Hooker on a double-block to close the set 25-14.
The Longhorns opened the third set on a 5-1 run with Hooker registering two kills during the rally. Four more kills by the senior All-American ballooned the lead to 16-11 and three straight TCU errors along with an Engle kill moved the score to 20-13. An Adams kill extended the lead to 23-16 and a TCU attack error forced match point. For the final point of the season at Gregory Gym, Engle looked to her classmate Hooker for the final kill of the home season and she didn't disappoint, closing out the set 25-18.
Texas returns to action on Friday, Dec. 11 at the NCAA Omaha Regional against the winner of the Texas A&M/LSU match at the NCAA Baton Rouge Sub-Regional. The match time is TBA.
On Sha'Dare McNeal: Sha'Dare is a phenomenal player and I think our staff had the most difficult time with the middle blocking crew. Sha'Dare has been good enough to play. We keep asking ourselves how we are keeping her out of the lineup, but we are very talented at that position and Sha'Dare has been better for us off the bench than she has as a starter. She's been able to play a lot of different roles for us in terms of the left side and middle, and serving. We can use her in a lot of different aspects. We have so much confidence in her. We've been throwing her in a lot of matches when we've been struggling with other team's middle blockers.
On the extent of Jennifer Doris' injury: She'll be okay, she's in good hands. We have got the best trainer in the country and they'll get her ready to come back and play. Sha'Dare was more than capable of playing off the bench.
On how they were able to build leads: I think our team stayed focus. They continued to play and our side-out percentages were extremely high.
Freshman utility player Sha' Dare McNeal
Senior setter/opposite hitter Ashley Engle
On setting Destinee Hooker the last two balls of the night: I knew that I wanted to go do Destinee, it was the last point in Gregory Gym so that was a given. It has just been such a great ride and I know that the last match was senior night, but since we did have these last two games it was great to be able to put a good win together for our fans. We are definitely going to miss them.
On the injury to Jennifer Doris: It's always a scary thought. Is it your knee, is it your ankle? It's tough, it happens all the time with people coming under and landing funny. I'm glad she's okay and I have so much confidence in Sha'Dare and all of the other players on our bench because we are all working hard and we're playing against each other all the time. I know I don't like playing against her, so it's great having her on our side of the net and I don't think we skipped a beat.
Senior outside hitter Destinee Hooker
On receiving the last two shots to end the game: I'm honored that Ashley gave me the last ball to hit over the net. She gave me the eye contact that signified to hit the ball and I did. She gave me the ball and I think it was blocked, then it came back over and I hit it again. It was a great finish to have at Gregory Gym. I'm sad I won't be back, but all the while I love Ashley Engle and am really thankful for that.
On being prepared for certain situations: You would definitely have to say a rhythm. You play like you do in practice to get ready for these kinds of situations. And when those points come in the game I am ready for it because I worked so hard in practice.
On matching up against Texas at Texas: We have played high-caliber athletes and have played in big time environments. But this is different, if you are in Texas, everybody talks about UT.
On how the tournament will help recruiting and next year: With our athletes that have been involved and have been able to play and participate, it is a building stone. Hopefully, the athletes come out and are ready to pursue the same goal next season. I don't know about 27, but I think that is the goal obviously. We will have a good team next year. As we have been, we are young, but we are old in our lineup, so it will be a good team again.
On the loss overall: It wasn't one player. We were not digging the balls. I think we ended up having only 31 digs and Texas had 41, and we did not serve as well tonight as we have most matches. We are number one in our conference in digs, and number one in service aces. Things just didn't click all the time tonight, and for us to win at Texas, those things have to happen. Also, we didn't challenge ourselves the same way defensively. Even the easy balls, they weren't going for. But honestly, Texas is the best team we have seen this year.
Senior outside hitter Lauren Otto
On how the match served the future program: I think for the younger classes, they know what it feels like to make it here, and they know what it feels like to sit on the sideline and not have their name called. I really think that will motivate them that much more.
On the match overall: Obviously we knew Texas was a good team, they are the best in the nation, so we knew that we were going to have to play the best that we could to give them a game. There were a lot of balls that we should have been digging that we didn't, and it was things like that, that slowly knocked the wind out of us tonight.
Senior defensive specialist Katelyn Blackwood
On the game overall: I think there was a lot of over-pursuit tonight. I think because we knew we could play with them, there was a lot of over pursuing the balls that we usually wouldn't have tonight and that hurt us.
On matching up against Destinee Hooker: We have played a lot of teams that usually have that one great hitter. And when you are over, you are going to get your kills, but one person can't win a game. So we still played the match the same as any other. We rolled the ball back and played the game.