No. 3 Volleyball sweeps No. 13 Wichita State, advances to NCAA Austin Regional
Dec. 6, 2008
AUSTIN, Texas -- The third-ranked Texas Volleyball team used a 12-kill, .429 hitting performance by junior All-America opposite hitter Ashley Engle to sweep No. 13 Wichita State in the NCAA Second Round. The Longhorns' victory advanced UT to the NCAA Austin Regional semifinals, marking the third straight season Texas has earned a trip to the semis. Texas' win moved the Longhorns to 27-3 on the season and the Shockers finished their season with a 30-2 mark.
In the first set, Wichita State grabbed an early 7-5 lead, but Texas answered with a 5-0 run capped by an ace from senior All-America middle blocker Lauren Paolini. The Longhorns widened the margin to 17-10 with a 5-0 run fueled by a pair of block assists from Engle and sophomore middle blocker Jennifer Doris. The Shockers narrowed the gap to five (19-14), but UT ran off six straight points powered by three Paolini kills to close out the frame, 25-14.
Texas led early in the second set before a kill by Wichita State's Lindsey Eckenrode moved the tally to 7-6. The Horns responded with a 4-1 run highlighted by a block and two kills from Engle that expanded the UT edge to 14-9. The Shockers battled back to close the margin to four (18-14), but Doris and the Longhorns came on strong down the stretch, siding-out at 94-percent for the set and winning the stanza, 25-18.
The Longhorns led early in the third and maintained their lead for the duration, pushing their lead to 11-6 on an Engle kill and maintaining their edge on a kill by Paolini at the 16-11 mark. Texas then pieced together a 4-1 run capped by a service ace from junior All-America outside hitter Destinee Hooker that increased the UT lead to 21-15. Hooker, Paolini and sophomore All-America outside hitter Juliann Faucette each tallied a kill late in the frame and closed out the set, 25-20.
Hooker led the Longhorns with a match-best 13 kills, while Engle connected for 12 kills, nine digs, five blocks and a service ace. Paolini added nine kills and Doris hammered out eight kills on .778 hitting. Wichita State's Emily Stockman and Sarah McGee paced the Shockers with seven kills each.
Texas returns to action when it hosts the winner of the UCLA/Duke second round match on Friday, Dec. 12 in the NCAA Austin Regional. First serve of the Texas match is set for 6:30 p.m. or 30 minutes following the first semifinal.
On Jennifer Doris' performance: She continues to get better. The most impressive thing is that she stuck around all summer and worked on getting stronger. She's done an extra lifting date each week to try to continue to get better and better and grow into her body. As the season progressed, she got a lot more confident, her speed is better and her attack selection is a lot better. There's a lot that has gone on behind-the-scenes to be able to make her successful. She's a key component for us. She's never going to lead our team this season in terms of total attempts, but when she puts up the kind of efficiency that she's doing, it makes it really difficult for teams to put a game plan against us. She can keep teams off-balance. I'm just proud of her for all the work she's done behind-the-scenes, and she continues to work hard everyday in the gym. It was a great night for her.
On Wichita State: I think they would fair very well in our conference and definitely would have been in the top four, if not higher. They played extremely well here, and the thing that people don't know, is that they are starting to draw 6,000 to 8,000 people. Playing them at home would be a lot tougher match-up. They're growing and they continue to get better. There's no coach in the country that has driven more than Chris Lamb in terms of trying to find secret talent. Every time I talk to him, it seems like he is in his car somewhere. I think they are close. If they can get one big time left-side hitter, I think that would make a big difference. It still comes down to left side hitting.
On the business-like attitude of the team: Well, I think we've been stung the last two years. We've been to the "Elite Eight," and we want to crack that next level. They've learned some valuable lessons from both of those seasons. There's a lot of hype to the NCAA Tournament and this group doesn't want to focus on that. Our mentality is that we wanted to host the first round and win one match at-a-time. One of our captains have put into rule that we're not talking about anybody else except for the team in front of us. I'm very happy that they were very focused tonight. I'm just starting to think that we are getting very close to peaking at the right time and it's a good time.
On the benefits of staying at home for the second round: It's nice. We don't have school on Monday or Tuesday, so we can get some rest. We'll have a very similar routine, and hopefully there will be a lot more hype and a much bigger crowd. It's just about routines and it gives you an advantage to play at home. We set goals of winning the Big 12 and getting a number seed for this purpose.
JUNIOR OUTSIDE HITTER Destinee Hooker
JUNIOR OUTSIDE HITTER Ashley Engle
On the team's offensive performance: It feels pretty good. Again, that's not going to be possible if we don't have solid passes and having Michelle mixing it up and finding good match-ups with the blocks on the other side. We found our rhythm early and it worked out for us.
SOPHOMORE Jennifer Doris
On her performance tonight: I had the easy job. [Heather] Kisner, the back row, the passers and Michelle [Kocher] did a nice job. I just got into a rhythm early, got hot and I was just having fun putting balls away. That's what this NCAA Tournament is all about, is getting hot at the right time.
WICHITA STATE QUOTES
On tonight's game and its outcome: They are a very well coached team, and I'm so proud of Jerritt [Elliott]. I've told him with what his team can do offensively, I think any night they can beat anybody. I love their setter. I'm glad to be here, they can beat anyone ahead, and I wish the best of luck to them.
JUNIOR OUTSIDE HITTER EMILY STOCKMAN
On next year: We have had an amazing season this year with this squad. We are only going to lose two players, and though both of them were incredible players, we have other people that are ready to step up and take on the challenge again next year.
SOPHOMORE MIDDLE BLOCKER SARAH McGEE