Forty Acres familiar NCAA Volleyball host
Dec. 3, 2010
When things change, they actually stay the same for Texas Volleyball.
The ninth-seeded Longhorns open NCAA postseason play tonight at Gregory Gym against UTSA, and this year marks the seventh year in a row that UT has hosted NCAA First and Second Round action.
"I feel like Gregory Gym is the best place to play in the nation," senior Jennifer Doris says. "It's a gift for us to be hosting again."
The Longhorns earned the right with their seventh-straight 20-victory season and a second place finish in the Big 12 - not to mention a 15-match winning streak. UT ranks atop the Big 12 and No. 4 in the nation with its .304 team hitting percentage and 17th nationally with 14.34 kills per set.
UT, the eighth-winningest program in NCAA Volleyball history, has been ranked for 109 consecutive weeks.
On Friday, UCLA and American begin play at 4:30 p.m., and the Longhorns take on UTSA at 6:30 p.m., or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first match. The two winners will play for a spot in the Austin Regional on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
"We're one of the teams that can compete for the Final Four," UT coach Jerritt Elliott says. "We've got to take care of UTSA in the first round. They are a good opponent, and we need to get our rhythm going and play well. We need our fans to come out. It's critical.
Entering the match against UTSA, the Longhorns have posted a 78-8 record against in-state opponents under Elliott, and had a 47-match win streak against those foes until falling to Texas A&M on Sept. 16. The Longhorns have won 18 of 19 matches since then.
"I think we embrace the adversity," Doris says. "We love to get into situations where our backs are against the wall and people count us out."
Doris points to UT's road victory against Baylor as a defining moment for the Longhorns. The Lady Bears led 19-10 in the third set, and even held a set point, before UT rallied for a 26-24 set win.
"That put a huge amount of confidence in our team, and we know that when we go down in a certain game, we always reference back to, `We were able to do it then. Let's pull together, circle the wagons and do it again,'" Doris says.