Building blocks to a season
Dec. 9, 2010
The Texas Volleyball team finds itself in the position it planned for back in August -- hosting the NCAA Volleyball Austin Regional this weekend, playing for a third-straight trip to the national semifinals.
UT’s road here, however, has been anything but by design. The Longhorns have overcome, adjusted and persevered. Injuries depleted depth, and early losses affected confidence. The only consistent element for UT this season has been the Longhorns’ willingness to learn and grow.
“We have embraced each other. We just have different people stepping up, and we have great team chemistry,” senior Jennifer Doris says.
TexasSports.com looks back at five defining moments of the 2010 season.
Sept. 17: First practice after 3-0 road loss to Texas A&M
The Longhorns commemorated their first multi-match skid since 2003 with a team meeting in the locker room in College Station. They talked openly and honestly about their problems, and Doris said everyone made a team promise right then and there to identify weaknesses and let the coaches attack those weaknesses.
“That was our time. Either you could fall or rise from the situation. We chose to rise and stick together. We let the adversity fuel us,” Rachael Adams said. “We could only go up from there.”
In the practice gym, the Longhorns were determined to find better passing and an offensive rhythm, and they rebounded with a 3-0 win against Baylor. Adams led that charge with 10 kills on .500 hitting.
“It definitely was not the start of the season that we anticipated or wanted,” Doris said. “We all decided to change it for the better.”
Sept. 29: Longhorns survive a roller coaster against Iowa State
UT needed five sets to claim victory against No. 9 Iowa State -- the Longhorns’ first win against a top 10 opponent this season. Head coach Jerritt Elliott remembers the inconsistency evident throughout the match.
When it was bad for UT, it was ugly -- 17 misfires on 55 swings to go along with seven service errors in the sets UT lost. The Longhorns actually hit to a negative percentage in the first and third sets, but found a way to win and were able to celebrate relief in a victorious locker room dance.
“We were shaken. We got on that string of losses and never recovered. It took us a few weeks to get our feet underneath us and our confidence back,” Elliott said.
Oct. 27: UT claims fourth-straight win against Nebraska at Gregory Gym
The Longhorns entered on a six-match winning streak, and were finally piecing together consistent matches. However, adversity persisted -- this marked Michelle Kocher’s fourth start at setter after Hannah Allison’s ankle injury sent her to the bench.
Still, UT brought in a different kind of poise. The Longhorns were aggressive, confident and believed they could win.
“It’s definitely a continuous story with our team. Many things have happened, and we’ve learned to come together and regroup. We take everything in stride,” Adams said.
Nov. 10: Faucette enters ‘beast mode’ on the road against Baylor
Faucette connected for three-straight kills before Baylor forced set-point at the 24-20 mark. Four more kills by Faucette and a Baylor attack error finally pushed UT ahead, enabling the 27-25 third set victory.
“It has instilled a lot of confidence in our team, knowing that in crunch time, we have people who like to get the ball,” Doris said. “Juliann has stepped up all season especially with the game on the line, and she has taken some big swings and we won some critical games. We know we have that go-to player.”
Faucette ended the match with a career-high 30 kills, part of a stretch where Faucette totaled at least 24 kills in four of five matches.
“Since then, when we’ve been down, we have not doubted that we could win a game,” Faucette said.
Dec. 4: Lineup changes help UT beat UCLA
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 and advance UT to its fifth-straight NCAA Regional.
The Longhorns finished with eight team blocks, and seven of those came in the final two sets. Allison finished with 24 of UT’s 54 assists.
“We can’t ever second-guess ourselves. When you do that, you play slow and tentative,” Adams said. “We have to keep our confidence and constantly take hard swings.”