Texas Volleyball Beats LSU 3-0 In Season Opener

Texas Women’s Volleyball defeated Louisiana State University in straight sets 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-9) to begin play in the 26 West Longhorns Classic Tournament at Gregory Gymnasium on Friday night.

“Overall I thought we did a very good job,” coach Jerritt Elliott said. “On the first night there are a lot of nerves and anxiety, and teams try create an identity and it usually takes a little bit of time. I think we did a great job of carrying over what we’ve been focusing on in practice and I think our back court did a great job defensively.”

The Longhorns controlled the first set, and won 25-12 with ease. The Tigers put the thorn in their own paw as they had 10 hitting errors and a .000 hitting percentage in the first set. In the match Texas outhit LUS .417 to. 153.

In the second set the Horns fell behind 8-4 early but rallied back with an 11 to two run to take a 13-10 lead. They went onto win 25-19 in the second set.

The Horns jumped to an 8-2 lead in the third set. The Tigers clawed back, eventually cutting the lead to 13-10, and then 16-15. Texas fended off the attack, and went on a 10-4 run to finish of the 25-19 set win, and the 3-0 match win.

“We all played really well and consistently throughout the game,” junior Sarah Palmer said. “I feel like we’re at a really good spot right now starting off the season. Obviously we still have a lot to learn, but I feel like we all cliqued as a team.”

At the net, sophomore outside hitter Haley Eckerman led the Longhorns with 16 kills and a .429 hitting percentage. A trio of returning players in junior Bailey Webster, senior Sha’Dare McNeal and sophomore Khat Bell contributed up front as they had 10, nine and eight kills respectively. Bailey and Bell each had two solo blocks and Bell had three block assists.

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“Our middle blocking core is really good,” Elliott said. “We have four great middle blockers, those guys have been battling night in and night out.”

Junior Hannah Allison and freshman Nicole Dalton split the setting duties against LSU and had 20 and 15 assists respectively. The veteran Allison had 1040 assists during the 2011 season, and knows the Gregory Gym court well. In Dalton’s first appearance in front of the Texas fans she showed a spark of what she can contribute to the Texas squad.

Coach Jerritt Elliott pointed out the Texas gym has a different intensity many other university programs in both practice and games, and that players have to adjust to both that level of play, and a different rhythms that opponents play with.

Elliott noted how much depth this Texas squad has throughout, and having two talented setters allows the team to have three hitters at all times.

Along with Dalton freshmen Kat Brooks (libero) and Sara Hattis (middle blocker) saw playing time in season opening match. Like Palmer, Brooks hails from Hawaii.

“It’s really fun [playing with Brooks],” Palmer said. “I played with her in club for about three years, and she’s just really feisty in the back row, always diving for balls. With me an her next to each other we just know when to go for it and it just flows really well.”

On Saturday the Longhorns will play Cal Poly at 11:30 a.m. and San Diego at 7 p.m. at Gregory Gym.

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