Lineup changes spark Volleyball in win against UCLA
Dec. 4, 2010
Hannah Allison went from standing to setting in a matter of minutes.
With his Texas Longhorns trailing by four early in the third set, after UT and UCLA split the first two, head coach Jerritt Elliott plucked Allison from the bench and inserted her into the rotation.
The Longhorns trailed 5-0 when Elliott called a timeout, and then UT got six kills on the next seven swings. This was enough to spark the momentum necessary for a four-set victory. UT advances to its fifth-straight NCAA Regional, and will play Illinois at Gregory Gym on Friday evening in the round of 16.
“It was a gutsy decision,” Elliott said of inserting Allison. “I thought at the start of game three that we were in trouble. Emotionally, we weren’t ready to push back. Hannah did a good job of sparking us, and got us back to having energy.”
Allison last saw significant playing time at Oklahoma on Oct. 13; she’s since been on the bench with an ankle injury, but Allison naturally merged back into the offensive fold.
“Coach Elliott did a really good job of letting me stay in good rhythm with the starters even though I was out,” Allison said. “It was a combination of that, and I had played a few points in the UTSA match just to get the jitters out. No matter if it’s me or Michelle (Kocher), we just come in comfortable because we’ve played with everyone for a really long time this season.”
Allison dumped two balls over early for kills, managed her tempos and even helped the Longhorns find some consistency with their blocking timing and patterns. She finished with 24 of UT’s 54 assists.
“She’s been out almost two months, and even in the warm-ups, her rhythm wasn’t that good. Hannah has shown me that she’s a gamer, and she’s always been a gamer,” Elliott said. “She’s got the personality. She’s extremely competitive. I just felt like we got flat, and I felt like she could give us a spark. We had confidence in her, and she did a fantastic job.”
Allison’s emergence certainly settled the UT offense, but the Longhorns’ blocking also improved late in the match and proved to be a determining factor in the victory. Elliott gambled again from the bench, dialing ahead three rotations so he could manipulate blocking match-ups.
The Longhorns finished with eight team blocks, but seven of those came in the final two sets.
“Texas spun their dial with their set up,” UCLA head coach Mike Sealy said. “In sets one and two, we knew how to set our lineup to match Texas’. Then, in set three, (Elliott) rotated three spots. From that point we were blocking different hitters than we anticipated. This caused an unusual matchup for us, and after that switch, the dynamic of the game shifted. The new matchup was beneficial for them.”