Volleyball's Adams shines in final match in burnt orange
Dec. 12, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Four years go by in an instant. Blink and you miss it. Thankfully, the Texas Longhorns have the record books to serve as memory for the indelible career of middle blocker Rachael Adams.
And for sure, the final match of Adams’ career serves as a perfect reminder of the focused workhorse who blossomed into one of the nation’s premier middle blockers during her tenure on the Forty Acres.
The Longhorns fell in the regional final in four sets to No. 8 seed UCLA on Saturday night at Memorial Coliseum despite a career performance from Adams. She equaled a career-high with her 19 kills, hit a team-best .412 and added five total blocks in her final match in burnt orange.
Adams played with purpose, poise and perhaps most importantly a willingness to spare no ounce of energy for the sacrifice of her team. She blocked, pounded balls to the floor and managed even to put solid swings on out-of-system balls.
Her 34 attacks led the Longhorns against the Bruins, and Adams totaled 34 kills and eight blocks in NCAA Regional play this weekend. Adams has now appeared in 20 career NCAA postseason matches, tying her with Juliann Faucette for the most in program history.
She helped UT to three-straight appearances in the NCAA Semifinals and the Longhorns’ first national title match appearance since 1995.
“She left the program better than she found it,” UT head coach Jerritt Elliott said of Adams.
Elliott said he is proud of the person Adams matured to be during her time with his volleyball team. An advertising major, Adams was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll four times, and she’s famous among the Longhorns for her meticulous organization and color-coded planner.
This season especially, as one of the team’s four seniors, Adams brought that preparation with her to the court. Her .387 hitting percentage ranked second in the Big 12, while her 1.18 blocks per set were third in the league.
Last year, Adams led the nation in hitting percentage and was a first-team All-American. Now, she leaves as UT’s all-time hitting percentage leader.
“She’s one of the best stories I’ve had in my career,” Elliott said. “She came in here and didn’t have a lot of experience, and she really developed into something special.”
These two matches on the University of Kentucky campus provided Adams with a bittersweet setting to conclude her career. It’s just an hour-and-a-half drive from Cincinnati, Ohio -- the closest Adams has played to her hometown during her time with the Longhorns.
“It's an easy drive for friends and family and I couldn't be more excited,” Adams said in anticipation of regional play.
But Adams was characteristically composed when asked how many supporters she would have in the arena -- she showed the focus that will define her career.
“I don't even want to know. I've been trying to avoid it and not think about it. I just have my mom deal with it, and they've been doing a good job. That helps me just focus and think about the game,” Adams said.