Horns’ kill count rises as team plans to battle Raiders

Austin Laymance

The Longhorns are killing the competition.

Texas returns home Saturday to face Texas Tech after a two-game road trip, riding a three-match win streak with much of the Longhorns’ recent success a product of their balanced play.

Texas had five players with double-digit kills in Wednesday’s victory over rival Oklahoma. Junior middle blocker Rachael Adams paced the No. 11 Longhorns with 16 kills while senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette and junior outside hitter Amber Roberson chipped in a pair of 13-kill efforts. Sophomore opposite hitter Sha’Dare McNeal and senior middle blocker Jennifer Doris added 10 kills each.

Freshman libero Sarah Palmer led a balanced Longhorns defense against the Sooners with 12 digs while McNeal added 10 digs for her third kill-dig double-double of the season. Freshman setter Hannah Allison also contributed 10 digs while Faucette and Roberson just missed out on double-doubles, finishing with nine digs apiece.
Adams earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors for the second straight week Monday, and has continued her impressive play as she looks to receive the award for the third week in a row. She has led the Longhorns in kills in eight of the last nine matches.

Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott is working with a short rotation as the Longhorns are still without injured junior libero Sydney Yogi, a co-captain, and freshman outside hitter Ashley Bannister. But Texas has not let the injuries get in the way of its improvement in recent weeks.

“We have had so many different lineups and so many people out at different times,” Elliott said. “The team continues to learn how to work well together and that is important for us as we gain continuity. We haven’t had it most of the year, so it is nice to see us start coming together.”

During Texas’ three-match win streak, the Longhorns have dominated the competition, dropping just one set to Oklahoma after a pair of sweeps against Colorado and Kansas State.

The Longhorns sit behind No. 3 Nebraska in the Big 12 standings and are two games behind the Cornhuskers, who are undefeated in league play.

Texas Tech is last in the Big 12 with a 1-7 conference record while the Red Raiders have only won three matches in the year. Texas is undefeated against Texas Tech in 18 matches under Elliott.