Longhorns find need for improvement

Lauren Giudice

After going 3-0 this weekend in Austin, the No. 8 Longhorns are heading to Fort Worth to take on TCU in their last game before conference play.

Although the Longhorns had a good weekend, there are still areas where the team could improve, especially when it comes to consistency.

“We’ve got to be able to find a little bit more balance,” said head coach Jerritt Elliott. “There’s a lot of things we haven’t even implemented yet that we’ll start trying to get a little bit more here in the next two to three weeks.”

He said the team’s leaders are going to step up and help Texas be more consistent. But the coaching staff is pleased with how the team has been performing.

“Ultimately, this group is working on being consistent for longer periods of time, and we showed some really good spurts for periods,” and we emotionally lost that, so it’s something that we will continue to work on,” Elliott said.

Although 6-3 isn’t perfect, all three losses were to top 10 teams and many players on the team have been performing well. These young Longhorns know what they need to do to get better.

An important component that the Longhorns are missing is junior Sha’Dare McNeal. McNeal started all 33 games last season but injured her right knee earlier this year. It is unclear when she will return.

“She is our most important player in regards to what she can do for our team,” Elliott said. “We have some different pieces that are a little bit awkward.”

But Elliott said once McNeal comes back, the team will play at an even higher level. Her return will strengthen the Longhorns’ passing and provide more offensive variety and creativity.

“Right now we are confident, the team is playing well,” Elliott said. “Again, we don’t miss a big beat with Sha’Dare out. But again she’s definitely a big piece.”

The coaches made the decision to be patient with McNeal as she overcomes her injury. In addition to missing McNeal, Elliott said more middle blocker production was needed this past weekend, especially from senior Rachael Adams.

“We’re a young group and if we continue to battle that’s all we can ask for,” Elliott said.

Printed on September 20, 2011 as: Consistency key as Horns set to take on TCU