No. 2 Volleyball uses defense to dominate
Sept. 3, 2010
Kacey Cherry, Texas Media Relations
The Texas defense took center stage Thursday night against Florida A&M, as the Longhorns extended their Gregory Gym winning streak to 25 matches. UT put down 20 blocks, marking the highest team total in a three-set match since the rally scoring era dawned in 2001.
Blocking proved to be a crucial element in the win over an attacking Florida A&M team that matched UT in kills for the first two sets. The Longhorns were able to roll to a sweep victory despite just 34 kills, the fewest on the season for UT.
"Even though our offense was struggling, our defense on the blocking side was very successful," head coach Jerritt Elliott said.
Offensive stars like Juliann Faucette and Sha'Dare McNeal always allow the UT offense to take center stage, but for the Longhorns, blocking never takes a back seat. Elliott understands the importance on having a team that does not solely rely on offensive abilities.
"Blocking has a huge correlation to winning volleyball matches and if you are blocking three balls a set, you're going to win a lot of matches," Elliott said. "As you can see tonight, it really made a difference."
Averaging more than six blocks per set against Florida A&M, the defensive showing illustrates a versatile UT team that knows how to take advantage of its height -- nine UT players stand at least 6-feet. UT opponents, however, can also use one of the Longhorns' most threatening assets against them. As Florida A&M did Thursday, teams will often attack the Longhorns' height with off-pace balls and force UT into a tempo change.
"(In) our practice gym, we're seeing ourselves hitting high so that's what we are doing and (in some matches) we have to adjust," Faucette said. "Especially when you're playing scrappy, shorter teams that hit lower to the tape, and they're getting kills that way. We have to adjust quickly because we aren't used to that."
The Longhorns generally strive to keep an opponent's hitting percentage below .150 or keep a 100-point difference between the team marks. This feat was well-achieved as UT attacked with a .373 hitting percentage and blocked Florida A&M to only reach a -.012.
Starting the new season with a 4-0 record, the Longhorns will next face Illinois on Friday at 6:30 p.m.