Adjustments key in No. 8 Volleyball's win over Kansas
Sept. 25, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott devised a nonconference slate that would test his eighth-ranked Longhorns, but also teach them. The lessons proved fruitful in UT’s Big 12 opener on Saturday.
The Longhorns logged a season-best .384 hitting percentage as they overtook the Kansas Jayhawks in three sets before a delighted crowd of 3,087 at Gregory Gym.
The victory, and the team’s efficiency, is really a testament to the Longhorns’ belief that they can still improve. Miscommunication turned into 12 unforced errors for UT in the first set. Or, as Elliott termed it, “We had 12 of their 20 points.”
UT’s swings were resulting in stuff blocks instead of kills, so Elliott encouraged the team to just hit over the block, instead of trying to hit around it. In sets two and three, the Longhorns didn’t hit lower than .500.
“We were executing in the first game, but our energy wasn’t there,” said middle blocker Rachael Adams, who tallied 10 kills and hit .467 for the match. “The little sloppy things started happening, with people not making eye contact and balls falling. After we cleaned it up, we just improved.”
Freshman Khat Bell benefited most from the coaches’ challenge to eliminate the Jayhawks’ block. She finished with a match-high 13 kills and didn’t record an error after the first set.
“I didn’t have to worry about angles anymore. I felt like I could just go over and swing free,” Bell said.
For Bell, one small tweak worked wonders against the Jayhawks, and Elliott and his assistant coaches Salima Rockwell and Erik Sullivan are taking a similar approach with their entire young squad. The Longhorns are implementing changes, like new blocking schemes or back row dynamics, at a comfortable pace.
“That’s a good way to start Big 12 play. We had a good preseason and learned a lot. This team is continuing to grow,” Elliott said. “I thought our team did a good job following the game plan. We’re trying to be basic, so we’re not overwhelming this young group. Our ball control, if we can continue to improve that, it will be great to see. We leave a lot of points on the floor. It’s little things we can clean up, but we’ll get there, we’re confident in that. We’ll keep teaching and keep being patient.”