Cameron's start highlights strong play by middle blockers
Aug. 28, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas -- First Jerritt Elliott surprised Haley Cameron, then the sophomore middle blocker managed to return the favor. Before Texas Volleyball's first match of the 2011 season on Friday against Pepperdine, Elliott informed Cameron she was a starter.
"Preseason, we all just worked hard," Cameron said. "I was pretty excited (to be a starter) and to know that my hard work had been recognized."
Cameron paired with senior middle blocker Rachael Adams to anchor the Longhorns during Saturday play at the Burnt Orange Classic, and after hitting .571 in Friday's victory against Pepperdine, Cameron tallied a career-high eight kills against Ole Miss and then seven in exhibition play against the Israel national team.
"Haley has gotten more confident. She's stronger and faster," Elliott said. "Friday night she was a little bit nervous, but she settled in, and she took some swings I'd never seen from her. I'm very pleased with the way she's performed, and she's only going to get better for us."
Adams provided the perfect example for Cameron to follow. The national player of the year candidate led the nation in hitting percentage in 2010, and she merely continued on that roll in the first weekend of the 2011 season. After contributing 14 points against Pepperdine, Adams hit .579 in five sets against Israel and had a combined 28 kills on 42 swings in the two matches Saturday.
"We're trying to move the ball around, and be good finds for our setters," Adams said. "We're trying to find our spots, and just continue to block the ball."
The Longhorns return to play Monday night in an exhibition rematch against Israel. The national team defeated UT in five sets on Saturday, despite the Longhorns taking a 10-6 lead in the final set.
"We have to hold our composure, even when the game is on the line," Adams said. "We have to believe in ourselves. We have to fight. We have to learn how to fight."
For now, Elliott is satisfied. With a roster of 13, and three new freshmen, the three weekend matches allowed for most players to see court time. Now the Longhorns go about the process of finding competitive relationships that will translate to toughness on the court.
"I thought we've gotten better in every match," Elliott said. "We're still unsure of what our lineup is going to be. We want to make sure we have the right group of players who can work together. Ultimately, the tough teams are the great teams, and that's attitude and heart."