Volleyball preview: State Farm Lone Star Showdown
Nov. 22, 2011
Match 25 : No. 5/3 TEXAS (20-4, 13-1 Big 12) at Texas A&M (21-6, 10-4 Big 12)
Texas holds the No. 3 spot in the most recent Volleyball Magazine Poll (Nov. 22) ... Texas' lone Big 12 foe in the poll is No. 14 Iowa State ... four of UT's non-conference opponents are ranked (No. 9 Penn State, No. 16 Pepperdine, No. 18 Florida, No. 19 Minnesota).
In the current release of the NCAA RPI (Nov. 21), Texas is ranked No. 4 ... the Horns trail No. 1 Illinois, No. 2 Iowa State and No. 3 Nebraska, while Purdue is No. 5.
Texas improved to 13-1 in the Big 12 play with its sweep of Baylor and 3-1 win at Missouri last week ... sophomore setter Hannah Allison was a stellar all-around performer in the wins, claiming Big 12 Player of the Week honors after setting the Big 12's leading offense to a .354 team attack mark and averaging 13.67 assists, 2.17 digs, 1.83 points, 1.17 kills and 1.00 blocks per-set.
National freshman of the year candidate Haley Eckerman was tabbed the Big 12 Rookie of the Week on Nov. 12, marking her second-straight honor and her fourth of 2011 ... she connected for a team-best 3.71 kills per-set for the week and totaled 3.86 points and 1.57 digs per-set in the wins over Baylor and Missouri.
Through Texas' first 24 matches senior middle blocker Rachael Adams is leading the way for the Longhorns ... she owns a Big 12-best .403 hitting percentage and ranks fifth in the league with 1.12 blocks per-set ... Adams currently ranks eighth in the NCAA in hitting percentage ... she is UT's all-time hitting leader with her .440 career mark.
Since head coach Jerritt Elliott arrived in Austin, the Longhorns have emerged as the dominant volleyball program in the state of Texas ... the Longhorns have posted an 87-8 (.916) record against in-state opponents during the Elliott era, including a 22-0 mark against Texas Tech and a 21-1 mark against Baylor ... UT has won 14-straight and 61 of its last 62 over in-state foes ... before Texas' loss to Texas A&M on Sept. 16, 2010, UT had won 47-straight matches versus in-state foes with the streak dating back to Oct. 16, 2004.
After a slow start to her sophomore campaign, opposite hitter Bailey Webster has come on strong for the Horns ... Webster hit .210 and averaged 1.74 kills in UT's first eight matches, but has shined in her last 16 outings, hitting .364 with 3.14 kills per-set.
Senior middle blocker Rachael Adams has benefitted greatly from the return of Sha'Dare McNeal who was missing from the Horns front row in 13 matches after injuring her knee in the season opener ... McNeal's return has allowed Adams to have more one-on-one opportunities and boost her hitting percentage 112 points ... Adams has hit .474 in the nine matches since McNeal's return after hitting .362 in the first 14 matches ... since McNeal returned all of Texas' starting hitters are hitting .299 or better.
In its Big 12 Conference matches, Texas has shined, hitting a league best .323, while limiting opponents to the league's second-lowest hitting mark (.167) ... the Horns rank No. 1 in the Big 12 with 14.65 kills, 13.78 assists and 2.51 blocks per-set ... senior Rachael Adams ranks first with a .426 attack mark, while sophomore Bailey Webster ranks third with a .355 hitting percentage ... freshman outside hitter Haley Eckerman's 3.69 kills rank fifth and her 4.08 points per-set rank sixth.