No. 3 Volleyball falls to No. 2 Stanford, 3-2, in NCAA Semifinal
Dec. 18, 2008
OMAHA, Neb. -- Despite claiming an early 2-0 lead, the third-ranked Texas Volleyball team fell to No. 2 Stanford, 3-2 Thursday night in the NCAA Semifinals. The Longhorns concluded their season with a 29-4 record, marking Texas' winningest campaign since 1993. Stanford's 25-20, 25-18, 15-25, 22-25, 13-15 victory improved Stanford to 31-3 on the year and advanced the Cardinal to its third straight NCAA title match.
After falling behind 3-0 to start the first set, Texas used a 9-1 run fueled by three kills from sophomore All-America outside hitter Juliann Faucette that put UT ahead, 9-4. Stanford closed the gap to one at the 12-11 mark, but a 4-1 UT rally capped by a Faucette kill gave the Horns a 16-12 edge. A 4-0 run paced by two kills from senior All-America middle blocker Lauren Paolini helped extend Texas' advantage to 21-15. The Cardinal responded with a 5-2 run before junior All-America opposite hitter Ashley Engle and freshman middle blocker Rachael Adams connected for consecutive kills to lift UT to a 25-20 set victory.
In the second stanza, Texas put together a 7-1 run headlined by two kills each from Engle and junior All-America outside hitter Destinee Hooker to grab a quick 12-6 advantage. Stanford rallied to shrink the margin to four (16-12), but the Horns were able to push the lead back to six (20-14) on a solo block by sophomore middle blocker Jennifer Doris. Engle added two more kills down the stretch to extend the lead and a kill by Faucette closed out the frame, 25-18.
Texas fell behind early in the third set, allowing the Cardinal to open the frame on a 9-3 run. Stanford widened the margin to seven (13-6) on a kill by Alix Klineman, but a 7-1 Texas run paced by three Hooker kills shrank the margin to one (14-13). The Cardinal answered the Horns' run by going on an 11-2 run, using three kills and a block by Erin Waller to claim the set, 25-15.
The Longhorns trailed to start the fourth set before a 6-2 run headlined by a block and a kill from Paolini propelled Texas to its first lead at the 10-9 mark. Stanford quickly regained the advantage, but Texas battled back, using a 4-0 run capped by a Faucette kill to take a 16-15 lead. The Cardinal responded by posting a 4-0 run of its own to take a 19-16 lead. Hooker led a Texas rally that narrowed the edge to one (21-20), but Stanford was too strong late and earned a 25-22 set win.
Texas came out hot to start the fifth set, running off three straight points on a Faucette kill, Hooker ace and a Stanford miscue. The Cardinal answered by posting a 5-1 run that put them ahead 6-5. Hooker followed with two straight kills to restore the UT lead at the 7-6 mark, but Stanford fought back to take an 11-9 edge on a solo block by Klineman. The two teams traded the next eight points before Stanford closed out the set. The Longhorns faced set-point at the 14-12 mark, but Paolini's 16th kill of the night forced a second set-point, which the Cardinal won on a kill by Cynthia Barboza.
Hooker registered a match-best 23 kills on the night, posted a .362 attack mark and notched a career-best 21 digs. Faucette added a season-best 19 kills, while Paolini hammered out 16 kills and hit .406. Engle joined the trio in double digits with 11 kills, while notching 10 digs and eight assists. Paolini concluded her Texas career tied with Brandy Magee (2003-07) for first place in career hitting percentage at UT with a .373 mark.
Texas returns 12 of its 15 letterwinners and six of its seven starters in 2009 as it makes a run at its third straight Big 12 title and sets its sights on a return trip to the NCAA Championship.