Texas Volleyball continued to keep pace with their counterparts on the football field with a solid victory over a Texas A&M squad that has been surprisingly solid this year - after all, they took out the Huskers last week in College Station. The final tally was 28-26, 25-20, 25-21.
Game Recap Here
Aggie Version Here
The win was impressive for several reasons:
- As Tempest mentioned, the Aggies are better than expected this year. They beat Nebraska, and if they had beaten Missouri on Saturday night they would probably have entered the rankings this week. If they had, the Gazelles would have 9 of their first 10 victories against ranked opponents. How's that for strength of schedule?
- Texas made a major change of lineup after the first set, inserting Michelle Kocher at setter to allow Ashley Engle to shore up the passing from the back row. Keep in mind that Ashley is 6'3" and Michelle is only 5'10". That's quite an adjustment for our hitters to make - and it was made in the middle of the match - not during intermission. According to the Gazelles, it's all about chemistry.
The Longhorns rallied to win the first set 28-26, despite three A&M set points, 18 ties and seven lead changes. And then with momentum tenuously in their palm, the Longhorns changed everything.
Michelle Kocher, last year's Big 12 Freshman of the Year who had played just one set in conference matches this season, came in to set while Ashley Engle took more passing responsibility out of the back row. This was an adjustment to counter the Aggies' risk-reward serving strategy.
And maybe it was risky on the part of the Longhorns. After all, when Kocher was asked if this was the most she had played in awhile, she offered slyly, "Yeah. You could say that."
But it was near impossible to tell. The Longhorns hit .364 in the second set, and then recorded just two hitting errors while throwing down at a crushing .464 percentage in the decisive third.
- National Player of the Year candidate Destinee Hooker's kill/dig double-double (17/12) was her fifth of the season and the 18th of her career.
- The crowd of 4,229 that attended the Texas/Texas A&M match was the fourth largest crowd to watch a match in Gregory Gymnasium's current configuration. I'm hopeful that Texas fans will break that record when Nebraska visits on October 30th. That match comes in the middle of what should be the final challenge to an undefeated season, with matches at aTm and at Iowa State on either side.
- Texas won the match despite being out-blocked for the first time this season. Though neither team was that impressive at the net, the Aggies had the edge, 5.5 to 4.0.
- This team continues to prove its mental toughness. They fought off 3 set points to take the first set.
The Gazelles now have a bit of a breather, as their October schedule features the lower half of the conference standings in the runup to that critical 3-match stretch around Halloween. Looks like Texas will continue to put a good scare into the Big XII for the foreseeable future.
Texas travels to Manhattan Saturday night for their next match.
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