Volleyball preview: NCAA Lexington Regional
Dec. 6, 2011
Matches 29-30: No. 1 seed Texas (24-4, 15-1 Big 12) at the NCAA Lexington Regional
Texas holds the No. 2 spot in the most recent Volleyball Magazine Poll (Nov. 29) ... 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).
The Horns are the No. 1 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and they are winners of their last 16 matches ...Texas is making its 28th tourney appearance which ties for seventh-best nationally ... the Horns own a 64-26 all-time mark in the tourney ... UT is one of only six schools to make the last six NCAA Regionals (Penn State, Florida)
The Horns clinched the 2011 Big 12 Championship with their 3-1 win over Oklahoma on Nov. 26 ... the title is Texas' fifth Big 12 crown and fourth in five years (`97, `07-'09) ... it is also Texas' third outright Big 12 title.
Texas claimed a total of eight Big 12 Conference awards, including Big 12 Player of the Year honors for Bailey Webster and Freshman of the Year honors for Haley Eckerman ... head coach Jerritt Elliott earned Coach of the Year lauds ... Eckerman, Webster and senior Rachael Adams all earned places on the All-Big 12 First Team.
Through Texas' first 28 matches senior middle blocker Rachael Adams is leading the way for the Longhorns ... she owns the Big 12's second-best hitting percentage (.388) and ranks third in the league with 1.20 blocks per-set ... Adams currently ranks 14th in the NCAA in hitting percentage ... she is UT's all-time hitting leader with her .433 career mark.
The Horns rank fifth in the NCAA in hitting with their .286 hitting percentage and rank 10th in the country in blocking with 2.81 blocks per-set.
In its four seasons, Texas' senior class has amassed a record of 109-14 (.886) and has posted the second-best winning percentage by any class in UT history ... the 2010 class owns the best winning percentage with its .889 mark ... the class has made three runs to the NCAA Semifinals, a trip to the 2009 NCAA Championship match and has won three Big 12 titles (2008-09, 2011).
Texas is hitting a Big 12 best .286 in 2011, marking its fifth-straight year to lead the league (2007: .343, 2008: .335, 2009: .338, 2010: .306).
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 20 outings, hitting .372 with 3.23 kills per-set.
After running a 6-2 offense in its first nine matches of the season, Texas has switched to a 5-1 system for its last 19 matches ... in the first nine matches, Texas hit .212 as a team and posted a 6-3 record ... since switching to the 5-1 system, UT is hitting .326 as a unit and owns an 18-1 record.
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 59 points ... Adams has hit .421 in the 14 matches since McNeal's return after hitting .362 in the first 14 matches ... since McNeal returned all of Texas' starting hitters are hitting .312 or better.
In Texas' first 16 matches, freshman outside hitter Haley Eckerman played exclusively in the front row, but in the Horns last 12 outings she has become a weapon from behind the service line with a lethal jump serve ... in 12 matches she has tallied 19 service aces and is averaging 0.45 aces per-set.
The Longhorns are currently riding a 16-match winning streak and they have not lost in more than two months ... UT's last loss was at Oklahoma on Sept. 28 and since that time the Horns have hit .336.