Sweep of Aggies only motivates Volleyball for higher goal
Nov. 23, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - What happened on Wednesday night wasn't unusual, considering that it's happened more than 90 times before.
But any competitive clash between the Texas Longhorns and A&M Aggies is never happenstance, and surely this volleyball showdown at Reed Arena didn't promise to be routine. The fifth-ranked Longhorns and A&M were meeting for the final time as conference foes, and UT chasing a share of the Big 12 Conference crown.
When the Longhorns took the court for just the second time wearing all black uniforms, it was apparent Jerritt Elliott and his corps of competitors meant nothing but business.
Their sweep victory before more than 4,000 loud and supportive Aggies was confirmation of that, putting UT in place to clinch the league championship outright with a home triumph Saturday against Oklahoma.
"Jerritt always says, `You wear the black, you have to represent,'" senior Sydney Yogi explained.
As UT's libero, it's usually Yogi standing out among the crowd in all black, but Wednesday night, Yogi was the lone ranger in burnt orange, as the Longhorns emerged stealth and steady in the darker hue.
After the Aggies tied the first set at 21-21, UT finished the stanza scoring four of the next five points and all the while staking their claim to their 70th victory in the historic in-state rivalry. The Longhorns never trailed in the second set, and used a 6-1 run early in the third to maintain control of the match and, ultimately, the conference race.
"It feels really good. It's such a big tradition that I think it's one everyone is going to really miss," Yogi said. "It's a huge rivalry. The schools are really connected. I'm glad we got to be a part of it, and we got to finish it out on the right note. It feels really good."
The Longhorns practiced Tuesday with loud speakers monopolizing the quiet space of their gym, spewing the refrains of A&M's age-old fight song. But even as the chords echoed through Reed Arena on Wednesday night, the Longhorns never flinched.
In fact, the words seemed rather fitting, as the Aggies bid adieu to the Longhorns, "And it's goodbye to Texas University."
"It is a challenge to talk over, and they have those cheers that are kind of intimidating," Adams said. "We were prepared to fight against it."
Freshman Haley Eckerman paved the way for UT with 18 kills, while Bailey Webster contributed 11 and Sha'Dare McNeal provided 10. UT's all-court game never allowed the Aggies to get on track offensively, as the Longhorns negated their sets with size at the net.
UT's senior class of Adams, Yogi, Michelle Kocher and Amber Roberson have dropped just one match in their careers to the Aggies, and used this most recent clash of rivals to spur them toward loftier expectations.
"It is nice having a share (of the conference championship)," Adams said, "but we're even more motivated to come out Saturday (against Oklahoma) and win it all. We don't want to share."