Consistency, balance push Volleyball against Colorado
Oct. 7, 2010
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas -- Juliann Faucette called Wednesday night at Gregory Gym a "feel good match." And, mostly, she was referring to Texas Volleyball's effort to raise breast cancer awareness on the campus and in the community with the annual Volley for the Cure match.
In the trademark color of survivorship, the Longhorns warmed up in special shirts and played before 2,556 fans who supported the cause in varying shades of pink.
But Faucette's words also ring true for how UT assembled its straight-set victory against Colorado. The Longhorns were clean and consistent, limiting the Buffaloes to just .133 hitting on the night while they connected on 44 percent of their swings.
"I'm really seeing the growth of our team. Our ability to be consistent for an entire match was pleasing for our staff," head coach Jerritt Elliott said. "The players are really buying in and developing and becoming a tight knit group."
After a five-set, topsy-turvy effort last week against Iowa State, and then a 3-1 road loss to Nebraska, UT returned with poise. The Longhorns had 48 kills on 85 swings, and committed just 11 errors.
Rachael Adams continued her stunning play with 13 kills and .800 hitting, and she rallied a UT offense that thrived on its balance. Amber Roberson matched a season and career high with 13 kills, Faucette added nine and Jennifer Doris logged a season-high seven.
With the middle blockers and right side hitters attacking, the Colorado defense was forced to spread itself at the net, and most Longhorns were facing only a single block.
"The balance is helping the team a lot," Roberson said. "You can toy with teams a little bit."
But the key to UT's offense really starts in the back row with passing. Elliott says the Longhorns aim to side-out at 67 percent for the match. Against Colorado, they more than achieved that, with 69 percent in set one, 66 percent in set two and 76 percent in the third.
"Those numbers are usually good enough to win," Elliott said. "Passing is a key component for us. We've been spending a lot of time in the practice gym working on serve-receive."
Perhaps the biggest victory for the Longhorns on Wednesday was seeing their practice mentality finally translate to the competitive arena. Even when Colorado bore down, and whittled away at UT's lead, the Longhorns found a way to respond. There was just one lead change the entire match.
"It's a focus and a mentality," Faucette said. "Our practices have been really good, and we're just making sure that we're not giving up. We're taking that focus, and know that each game, we have to go out there and battle.
"It's just not getting on our heels. Teams that come in here are really good, and they'll put up numbers against us, but we have to respond."