Deep bench a force behind Texas’ spiking stock

Austin Laymance

As Texas travels to Colorado on Saturday, the team will look to build off a huge win at home over No. 2 Nebraska on Wednesday. The Longhorns have won seven straight matches and 10 of the last 11, including seven sweeps — dropping only six sets during their hot streak.

The turnaround came after the low point in the season when Texas lost three straight matches and sat at 5-4. Head coach Jerritt Elliott shuffled his lineup because of numerous injuries and the Longhorns (15-5; 9-2 Big 12) have since taken off.

“We are playing more confident than we were,” Elliott said. “This team has come out and learned how to fight individually, they’ve learned how to fight as a team, they’ve gained confidence and learned a lot about themselves and that’s a big key to our success. The difference is now the starters have to perform well because we don’t have the luxury of subbing people in and out.”

Junior setter Michelle Kocher is the latest Longhorn to have her number called after spending the majority of the year backing up freshman Hannah Allison.Kocher has stepped in and immediately contributed.

“The girls that have stepped in have done a phenomenal job, we haven’t missed a beat,” Elliott said. “They’ve built a lot of trust and they’re competing. As a coach, it makes it fun to show up to the gym and get after it.”

But the Longhorns began the year as one of the deepest teams in the nation and have shown the importance of having a talented bench.

“We understand that if someone goes down, there are people there to step up, and they have,” Kocher said. “When people have had their opportunities they’ve really come out and shined. We’re all talented enough to take care of business.”

Senior middle blocker Jennifer Doris has been around long enough to grasp the talent level of her teammates wearing orange and white.

“Everyone on our team could start and play anywhere,” Doris said. “People have stepped up, but that’s part of being an athlete here at Texas, you never know when your number is going to be called.”

Texas and Colorado face off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Boulder.