Volleyball Preview: Texas vs A&M

The Lone Star Showdown Part Two

The worm has certainly turned in the volleyball series with aggy.  After they swept us in 2000 and 2001, the two teams had three years where they split the season series - each team winning on its home court. Each of those three years in Austin, the matches were an epic 5-game battle.  Now Texas has swept aggy two years in a row and Friday night we will be looking to make it three straight years.  The last two years in Austin haven't even been close, and I do not think the third time will be the charm for A&M.

Positional Breakdown

Outside Hitters: Juliann Faucette and Destinee Hooker for Texas; Sarah Ammerman and Mary Batis for A&M.

Advantage:  Texas  There are not many outside hitter combos that are going to compare favorably to the duo of Faucette and Hooker.  They know it, we know it, and everyone in Sacramento is about to know it come December 15.  Ammerman and Batis had respectable outings against the Horns in College Station.  I expect the Horns to clamp down the block on the aggie duo.

Right Side Hitter:  Ashley Engle for Texas; Kelsey Bryant for A&M.

Advantage: Texas  With the emergence of Faucette and the solid play by our middles, Ashley has been able to focus on her all-around game rather than being the kill co-leader with Destinee.  In my opinion, no one has the all-around game of Engle.  She’s not going to lead the team in kills, aces, assists or digs.  But in most matches since her return, she will be 2nd in all of those categories.  On a team with as much talent as Texas, that fact should not be lost.   She makes at least one play per match where you go "How in the hell did she just do that?"  Bryant is an Austin Westlake product so she’ll probably have a decent showing, but she is not in the same league as Engle.

Middle Blockers: Lauren Paolini & Brandy Magee for Texas; Kelly Stanton & Jillian Phillips for A&M.

Advantage: Texas  Last time in College Station, Jillian Phillips took it to us.  She was the lucky recipient of several over passes by Texas.  Do not expect the same luck to occur for her in Austin.  Our serve receive has improved dramatically since then.  Phillips does get off some monstrous kills. I expect Pao and Magee to put "The Stall" on her a la their shutdown of Tracy Stalls of Nebraska.

Setter: Michelle Moriarity for Texas; Kristen Schevikhoven for A&M.

Advantage: Texas  Aggy nicknames their setter Chevy.  This fact pretty much says it all in that here at Texas we have a Rolls Royce and aggy is stuck with a Chevy.  And it’s a metro.

Libero: Alyson Jennings for Texas and Jen Moore for A&M.

Advantage: Texas  I’ve seen nothing spectacular from Jen Moore in the two matches I’ve seen of A&M.  If I was able to make out the lineup correctly on the shoddy internet video of the KU match, look for Jennings to serve up lots of points.  They now have her serving when we are in the rotation where Ashley, Pao and Destinee are playing front line.   I call this the "Amazon Front Line" as it represents 6’5", 6’4" and 6’3".  The opposing team’s hitters get pretty intimidated when these three are on the front row at the same time.

I expect our record 10th sweep against A&M.  Ammerman, Batis and Phillips will get some kills but expect Texas to clamp down on them and force Stanton and/or Bryant to beat them.  The A&M block is pretty good so Michelle will need to do an excellent job of distributing the ball to keep the aggy blockers guessing.

We are cruising into the home stretch.  Texas Tech is here in Austin next Wednesday and should not prove to be any real threat.  Senior Day is Saturday November 24th.  Please come out to support our seniors: Michelle, Brandy, Alyson and Jen Christian.  They have taken this program on their backs and restored it to its once proud tradition.  They deserve to go out with the 3rd sellout of the year.


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