Volleyball's Quest for The Final Four Continues...

This weekend it's the regionals at Gregory Gym.  Our Gazelles have their work cut out for them as they have two PAC-10 teams and a Big 12 foe waiting to end their dreams of a final four. 

I'm reminded of Bum Phillips back in the days when the Oilers came close but couldn't make the Superbowl....we have been knocking on the door and this year it's time to kick the son of a bitch in!  That's how I feel going into this weekend.

The schedule for this weekend is:

FRIDAY 4:30 - Oregon vs Iowa State

FRIDAY 6:30 ( or 30 minutes after 1st match)  - Texas vs UCLA

SATURDAY 5:30 - Regional Final

I can't stress enough how important having a packed house is to the team.  They play better and the environment is outstanding when the seats are full.  They need your help to make the Final Four.  So get there if it's at all possible.

Keys to Victory for Texas:

1. PASSING - Passing has been the achilles heel of Texas this year.  If Texas passes well this weekend, we are Omaha-bound.  If we don't we could easily see a result similar to the USC fiasco last year in Gainesville.  Kocher needs to have all 3 options available to her so she can distribute the ball effectively.  There are only two other teams, Penn State and Stanford, that have the offensive firepower of Texas.  No one in our regional comes close.  So if Texas passes well to allow Hooker, Engle, Pao, Faucette and the recently discovered power hitter Jen Doris to terminate; Texas wins.

2. Key Contributions from Emerging Players:  Hooker, Engle and Pao have carried the load through most of the season.  But another key will be how well Juliann Faucette emerges from her sophomore slump.  Since the Nebraska game, Faucette has shown signs of returning to freshman form.  She's been pounding the cover off the ball.  We need her to play like Freshman Juliann this weekend.  Jen Doris has been absolutely crushing the ball lately.  Her hitting efficiency is rivaling Pao's.  Having a 2nd middle blocker with the efficiency of Pao will be lethal.  And since Jen is the 3rd option behind Engle & Hooker, if she does well the opposing team's blockers are going to have a devil of a time controlling our hitters.

I believe UCLA will prove to be the biggest challenge this weekend.  UCLA has a veteran setter that will try to exploit one on one matchups with her hitters versus our blockers.  They play very strong defense, so they can frustrate teams like Texas that want to terminate immediately and play in a fast rhythm.  I expect this one to go 4 if not 5. If we sweep, it'll mean our passing is lights out.  Expect both UCLA and Oregon to serve very aggressively.

In the regional final, I expect TV-HD (Ms. Hooker, if you're nasty) to absolutely take over.  In front of a home crowd and on national TV, I expect her to dominate.  Iowa State could pull off the upset Friday as they are defensively as strong as UCLA.  They make teams work very hard to get points.  I don't know much about Oregon other than the fact they have some foreign players and they are very streaky.  They kind of sound like Kansas State.

Hope to see some BONers at Gregory this weekend.

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