No. 3 Volleyball advances to NCAA Regional final with 3-1 win over Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The third-ranked and fourth-seeded Texas Volleyball team snapped No. 7 Florida's 16-match home winning streak with its 3-1 victory in the NCAA Gainesville Regional semifinal, Friday night at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The Longhorns' victory advances UT to the Regional final where it will meet No. 5 USC on ESPNU at 3 p.m. Central on Saturday, Dec.8.
Texas' 30-27, 29-31, 30-16, 30-15 victory moves the Longhorns to the Regional finals for the second straight season. In the Horns' win, UT out-hit the Gators .340-to-.127 and out-blocked UF 13-to-11.
Sophomore opposite hitter Ashley Engle highlighted the Texas attack with a match-high 17 kills on .667 hitting and added 10 digs and three blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Destinee Hooker registered 16 kills on .406 hitting and middle blockers Lauren Paolini and Brandy Magee tallied 12 kills each.
Texas jumped out to an early lead in game one, using a 3-0 run, fueled by three straight blocks, to claim an 8-5 advantage. The Longhorns widened the margin to four at the 10-6 mark, but three straight Gators' points narrowed the UT lead to 10-9. Florida evened the tally at 16 and again at 19, however, a pair of UF errors and a kill by Magee put UT back in front, 22-19. Texas maintained the edge down the stretch and used kills by Magee and freshman outside hitter Juliann Faucette to grab a 28-26 lead and a Florida double contact to seal the game, 30-27.
The Gators jumped out to a quick lead in the second frame, putting together an 8-2 run paced by three Amber McCray kills. Texas battled back to tie the game at 13 and claimed a 14-13 advantage on Engle's fifth kill of the game. The Longhorns pushed their lead to its widest margin at the 28-25 mark, but the Gators rallied to tie the game at 28 on a kill by middle blocker Kisya Killingsworth. Florida added three straight points late in the game, using a pair of kills and a block by Killingsworth to claim the second game, 31-29.
The Longhorns leapt out to an 11-3 lead to start the third stanza, taking advantage of a 10-2 run paced by three kills by Paolini. Texas pushed its lead to 11 at the 20-9 mark, utilizing a 5-0 run capped by two UF errors and extending its edge to 25-12 on a service ace by senior libero Alyson Jennings. Two more Gators' errors pushed the tally to 28-13 and Faucette closed out the game, 30-16 with a service ace.
Senior setter Michelle Moriarty steadied the Texas attack with 58 assists and 11 digs, while dishing out double-digit kill totals to five attackers. Jennings headlined the defense with a team-best 15 digs and Paolini chipped in eight block assists. Faucette contributed 11 kills and nine digs in the victory.
Texas returns to the court at 3 p.m. Central on Saturday, Dec. 8 against USC, which defeated St. John's 3-2 in its NCAA Regional semifinal match.