No. 1 Texas Volleyball clinches share of Big 12 title with sweep of West Virginia
AUSTIN, Texas -- No. 1 Texas Volleyball swept West Virginia (25-17, 25-10, 25-15) Thursday evening at Gregory Gymnasium to claim a share of the Big 12 Conference regular-season title for the third consecutive season. The Longhorns can win the conference crown outright Saturday afternoon when they host the K-State Wildcats at 4 p.m.
The victory increased Texas’ win streak to 16-straight matches and improved the Longhorns to 20-2 overall on the season. This marks the 10th consecutive season of 20 or more wins under Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott.
Junior All-American Haley Eckerman put together a dominant performance that matched her career-high of 27 kills and set personal bests in both hitting percentage (.634, 27-1-41) and points (28.5). Senior Hannah Allison and freshman Chloe Collins notched 15 assists apiece, while sophomore libero Kat Brooks recorded a career-best four aces. Senior libero Sarah Palmer led both teams with 15 digs.
Texas (13-0 Big 12) overcame an early 0-3 deficit in game one and put away West Virginia (18-12, 4-10 Big 12) by a final score of 25-17. Eckerman led the Longhorn offense (13-5-33, .242) with nine kills on 15 attempts (.600) while the Mountaineers were limited to -.023 (10-11-44) in the opening set.
The Longhorns never trailed in game two and pulled ahead by nine points, 12-3, to put the set out of reach early for the Mountaineers. Texas clinched its 13th-straight conference win behind Eckerman’s 10 kills in the third set.
Jordan Anderson and Evyn McCoy led West Virginia with seven kills apiece, while Brittany Sample recorded a match-high 21 assists.
- With the win, Texas claimed a share of its seventh Big 12 Conference regular-season championship.
- Texas has lost just six sets in 13 conference matches.
- Texas held West Virginia to only 10 points in game two, the fewest by an opponent since Nov. 30, 2012, when Colgate notched just four points against UT in the first set of the NCAA Championship First Round.
- The win marks the 10th consecutive season of 20 or more wins under head coach Jerritt Elliott.
- The Longhorns have won 47 consecutive Big 12 conference matches in Gregory Gym … UT has won 58 of its last 60 league matches.
- Kat Brooks set a career-high with four service aces.
- Texas totaled 12 blocks, marking the fourth straight match with 10 or more blocks.
- The Longhorns’ hitting percentage of .352 marks the ninth time this season they eclipsed .300, including eight times in their 13 matches... Texas forced West Virginia to a .009 hitting percentage- the lowest of any opponent this season.
- Haley Eckerman led the Longhorns in kills for the 13th time while matching her career high of 27 … she notched career highs in both hitting percentage (.634, 27-1-41) and points (28.5).
- Molly McCage and Chiaka Ogbogu led the Longhorns in blocks with six each.
- Sarah Palmer led the Longhorns in digs for the 17th time this season with 15.
Texas Head Coach Jerritt Elliot
Opening statement: I liked the way that we played tonight. The first time out early on in the game I thought we found our groove and obviously Haley (Eckerman) had a phenomenal match and almost had a career high in kills but tied it. I liked that on the defense we thought about, “how do we contain them, how do we control the serve, serve the pass game, and how do we manage our game?” I thought we did an excellent job. In game one, I think there were five errors already early and we had three swings at the end. Just a really good job of how we played the game.
On thoughts about this being his 10th consecutive season of 20 or more wins and what it means for the program: It means I have fooled some players to come play at Texas. (Laughter.) We have had some great players and we try not to mess them up too much as they have been here. The players that came before these girls are the ones that created the culture and I think there is a culture there and now a tradition and when you have both a culture and tradition it bodes well for recruiting and hopefully we can continue that as long as we are working hard in identifying the right talent. It is an amazing accomplishment and we tied for the Big 12 again and you can never take that for granted. I got a lot of respect for what these girls have done and we have three matches to go and now we have an opportunity to do something we have never done, which is winning the next three games and not having any losses in the Big 12.
Junior OH Haley Eckerman
On thoughts about her overall dominance in the game: I think this week in practice I have been trying to work on a lot of stuff and so it was something that although we work on a lot in practice, I just thought I needed to play my game and I felt like the team in general just had a lot more fun and the same with last weekend at Tech. It was something different about the team in general and it just made everything a lot more energetic.
Sophomore L Kat Brooks
On thoughts about how well the team played tonight: It feels really good to be in our rhythm (tonight) and I think that finding our rhythm is really important for our success in the future. I think in the whole game we had a good rhythm, we obviously had a few ups and downs but the second set especially we were in our groove and everyone was doing their roll, taking care of their responsibility, and taking that to heart. It was a really good set for us.