15 Sep

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Balanced Attack and Depth Lead Volleyball to 7-0 Start | Horns Illustrated

(via TexasSports.com)

(via TexasSports.com)

AUSTIN, Texas - No. 2 Texas Volleyball is off to a 7-0 start—its best since 2009, when the Longhorns fired out to an 18-0 start and finished the season in the national championship match.

But not only is Texas undefeated—it has only dropped one set through the first seven matches. What makes this team so good? Depth and balance.

Head Coach Jerritt Elliott has been using an average of nearly 12 players in matches in the early part of the season, including 14 players in the Longhorns' recent 3-0 sweep of Florida A&M.

After Texas won all three matches at the 26 West Longhorn Classic, Elliott credited his stacked roster.

"That's the strength of our program," Elliott said. "We just have so many good players right now. The players have worked really hard. It's a lot of fun to be a part of.

The depth has developed a potent, balanced attack that has fueled the Longhorns' undefeated start. An average of 7.5 players are registering at least one kill per game and six different Longhorns have led the team in kills.

The Longhorns have the ability to attack an opponent from all over the court, something that Elliott realizes gives his team a competitive advantage.

"When you have that kind of balance and teams can't load up on you, it makes it very challenging for them," Elliott said. "It's very hard to scout our team. It's hard to defend our team, because you can't really do any blocking schemes and it's difficult. When we have balance like that, it puts a lot of pressure on our opponents."

The Longhorns balanced attack and depth was on display in the Longhorns 3-1 victory at then-No. 11 Florida last weekend. Eight Longhorns registered kills in the game, led by two-time All-American Haley Eckerman's 11. The balanced attack and depth caused issues for Florida's blocking schemes, as the Longhorns out-blocked the Gators 16-5.

Senior leader Eckerman knows that depth is key for UT to continue to improve and be as good as they hope to be by the end of the season.

"It challenges us," Eckerman said. "We get challenged against each other in practice and it makes us better."

The Longhorns return to the court on Saturday at 2 p.m. against No. 11 Nebraska in Lincoln.

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.