12 Dec

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No. 3 Texas Volleyball defeats UCLA (3-1) and advances to NCAA Regional Final

No. 3 Texas Volleyball advances to NCAA Regional Final with 3-1 win against UCLA

AUSTIN, Texas -  Texas senior outside hitter Amy Neal recorded a match-high 18 kills as the No. 3 Longhorns advanced to their 10th consecutive NCAA Regional Final with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-22, 25-10, 25-20) win against No. 12 UCLA on Friday in Gregory Gym.

The Longhorns (28-2) will face 16th-ranked Florida (25-6) in Saturday's NCAA Regional Final, which will take place at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Texas will appear in its 21st NCAA Regional Final all-time and improved to 21-6 (.778) all-time in regional semifinal matches.

Neal charted her 10th double-double of the 2015 season, adding 12 digs to her 18 kills. Junior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu added 13 kills on .478 hitting and four blocks, while junior outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame contributed 12 kills.

Junior setter Chloe Collins dished out a match-high 51 assists and sophomore libero Cat McCoy came up with a team-high 14 digs. Senior middle blocker Molly McCage finished with nine kills and four blocks.

As a team, Texas hit .270 on the match, while UCLA hit .121. The Longhorns out-blocked the Bruins, 10-9.

UCLA (25-8) was led by a team-high 17 kills from junior outside hitter Jordan Anderson, while sophomore outside hitter Reily Buechler had 12 kills. Freshman setter Zana Muno dished out 35 assists and came up with a match-high 20 digs.

UCLA opened the match by scoring the first three points of the first set. A kill by Ogbogu and an attack error by the Bruins brought Texas within one, 3-2. UCLA then ran off four of the next five points to extend its advantage to 7-3 and force a timeout by the Longhorns. Trailing 7-3, Texas used a 6-2 run to knot the score at 9-9. Three different Longhorns had kills during that stretch.

Following three more kills, back-to-back put-downs by UCLA's Anderson gave the Bruins a 14-12 advantage. Down 19-16, an Ogbogu kill and a UCLA attack error brought Texas within one, 19-18. Ahead 22-20, UCLA's Anderson committed back-to-back attack errors to tie the score at 22-all. After another tie at 23, a kill by the Bruins' Buechler and a UCLA attack error gave the Bruins the 25-23 first-set victory. Neither team was highly productive offensively as Texas hit .118 and UCLA hit .122.

Texas jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the second set, as three different Longhorns had kills during that stretch. UCLA then used a 4-1 run to tie the score at 5-5. Following two more ties, a kill by Neal and a Bruin attack error gave the Longhorns a 9-7 advantage. With Texas ahead 14-12, back-to-back UCLA kills knotted the score at 14-all.

After another tie at 15, Yaazie Bedart-Ghani registered a kill and then a ball-handling error by the Bruins put Texas back in front 17-15. UCLA rallied to tie the score again at 18 and, after two more ties, consecutive kills from Ogbogu and Prieto Cerame put the Longhorns back in front 22-20. Texas closed out the set on a 3-1 run that was capped by a Kat Brooks service ace to give the Longhorns the 25-22 second-set victory. Texas hit .361 in the second frame, while UCLA hit .289.

Texas scored the first four points of the third set and continued rolling to a 7-1 advantage. A Collins scoring run helped spark four consecutive Longhorns points that extended Texas' lead to 12-2. In front 13-4, Texas got back-to-back resounding blocks that pushed it ahead by 11, 15-4. UCLA would get no closer than nine points (16-7) the rest of the third set. The Longhorns scored the final five points of the frame to take the 25-10 victory. UCLA was limited to -.103 in the third set, while Texas hit .375.

The two teams battled evenly to begin the fourth set. With the score tied at 5-5, a UCLA attack error and back-to-back kills by Neal moved Texas ahead 8-5 and forced a timeout by the Bruins. The Longhorns kept rolling to a 15-8 advantage following consecutive kills by McCage and Ogbogu. Texas led 17-9, but UCLA began trimming away at its deficit, eventually cutting within three, 21-18.  The Longhorns closed the match on a 4-2 run and a McCage kill ended the match with a 25-20 fourth-set victory.

POST-MATCH NOTES

  • The Longhorns improve to 21-6 all-time in NCAA Regional Semifinals, including a 10-1 mark under head coach Jerritt Elliott.
  • Texas is now 62-9 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches played in Austin.
  • Texas is 82-29 all-time in NCAA Tournament matches.
  • The UT senior class of Kat Brooks, Molly McCage and Amy Neal improves its record to 111-12 (.902) as the winningest class in program history.

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.