Khat Bell led the Longhorns with 13 kills as they claimed their third straight conference championship. (photo: University of Texas Athletics)
AUSTIN, Texas -- The No. 1 Texas Longhorns clinched the Big 12 Conference title outright with a sweep of the Kansas State Wildcats (25-20, 25-19, 25-15) Saturday afternoon at Gregory Gym in front of a packed house of 4,284 fans. Junior Khat Bell registered a match-high 13 kills as Texas (21-2, 14-0 Big 12) extended its winning streak to 17. This is Texas' third consecutive Big 12 title and sixth in the last seven seasons.
Senior setter Hannah Allison posted a match-high 40 assists to set up the Longhorn attack. The All-American duo of Haley Eckerman and Bailey Webster notched 10 and 12 kills, respectively, as Texas outhit Kansas State .379 to .180.
Kansas State’s Chelsea Keating and Kaitlynn Pelger led the way for the Wildcats with eight kills apiece.
Texas caught fire in the opening set, jumping out to an early 7-2 lead. Eckerman led the attack with six kills in the first game. The Longhorns used a balanced attack with five different players registering kills. Kansas State rallied to close within four points at 24-20, but a service error clinched the set for Texas.
Kansas State and Texas battled it out in the second, with 15 ties and five lead changes. However, the odds were in Texas’ favor when Chiaka Ogbogu’s kill made it 20-18 Texas. The Longhorns would go on to win five of the next six points to win the second set 25-19.
Texas closed out the Wildcats with a decisive 25-15 win in the third. Eckerman notched back-to-back kills to put the Longhorns up 16-6 for their largest lead of the match. Bell finished it off with consecutive kills to give Texas the win.
Texas travels to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 6:30 p.m. CST. Texas will go for its 18th straight win and chase a perfect 15-0 record in Big 12 play.
- With today’s victory, Texas won the Big 12 Conference title outright for the third straight year … the Longhorns also shared the regular-season title in both 2007 and 2008 … this is UT’s sixth conference crown in the last seven seasons.
-Today’s attendance of 4,284 marks the fifth largest in Texas history since Gregory Gym was reconfigured prior to the 1998 season … Texas’ average attendance of 3,781 per match is the highest in program history.
- Texas has lost just six sets in 14 conference matches.
- The Longhorns have won 48 consecutive Big 12 conference matches in Gregory Gym dating back to Nov. 1, 2008, when they swept the Texas A&M Aggies … UT has won 59 of its last 61 league matches.
-Junior middle blocker Khat Bell recorded a match and season-high 13 kills … it is the second time this season she has led or co-led the Longhorns in the category.
-Senior setter Hannah Allison recorded a match-high 40 assists … it was her sixth 40+ output of the season.
-Senior libero Sarah Palmer recorded a match-high 10 digs
-Junior outside hitter Haley Eckerman notched 10 kills to extend her double-digit kill streak to six consecutive matches.
Texas Head Coach Jerritt Elliott
Opening Statement: I want to first thank the fans for coming out. It was a great attendance and it was nice to have them behind us. They’ve been here all year long and it’s been a big part of this. But for us to win the Big 12 conference outright is a special accomplishment. It’s something that we set as a goal when we returned last January. Our team has worked really hard to be able to get to this point. It’s something that we don't take for granted and we appreciated all the alumni that have come before this group and established this tradition and now they get to add to that as well. I thought we played well tonight. We’ve been really working on pushing our middles to get them a little bit more involved in the offense. That showed tonight and I thought Hannah [Allison] distributed the offense really well and it bodes well for this team. We’re excited now to play a very tough match against Iowa State on the road on Wednesdaynight. It’s going to be a good challenge for us and we need to be pushed. We’ve been challenged there many times before and we took a loss there last year before we entered the tournament. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.
On the offense’s continued improvement: The offense is getting better. Obviously we’re getting better production. Our kill production has gone way up. We’re managing our game a lot better and we’re not making as many unforced errors. I think we’ve been steadying out in terms of all the points in our game. I think the girls are now starting to see that the light’s at the end of the tunnel. They’re getting excited. There’s some good enthusiasm from them and I know that they’ll focus on this week but they’ll be excited for that NCAA tournament too.
Freshman MB Chiaka Ogbogu
On what it would mean to go undefeated in conference play: I think it would just show how much we've been doing and how hard we’ve been working. It would be the result of how hard we’ve been working this season.
Junior MB/OH Khat Bell
On her mindset during the game: Obviously I was thinking about Erik (Sullivan, assistant coach) telling me not to over think everything. I was just trying to be more consistent and let Hannah [Allison] trust me more and know that I’m there for her.
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