Longhorns move onto regional semifinals

Lauren Giudice

When the Longhorns came out on the court Saturday night, there was no doubt they were ready to play. The team entered Gregory Gym with energy and confidence that could not be stopped.

Although they swept Texas State on Friday, Saturday night’s sweep of Michigan State is a match that shows the Longhorns deserve their top seed in the NCAA Championship tournament.

Blocking is what guided the Longhorns to their three set win over the Spartans. The team had 16 blocks to finish the 25-11, 28-18, 25-22 victory.

“I thought we came out and did a great job from the very first ball,” said head coach Jerritt Elliott. “We played at a very high level tonight and ultimately did a great job with our blocking schemes and getting over the net.”

The Longhorns’ first set seemed unstoppable. They had seven team blocks and Hannah Allison had three block assists that gave Texas a 9-2 run. Madelyne Hutson had two block assists and a kill during the run. They hit .722 with zero hitting errors in the set.

“The coaches challenged us to get that first point,” Hutson said. “That’s been a little bit of an issue for us in our home gym.”

The second and third sets were much closer, but the Longhorns pulled out a convincing win over the Spartans who come from the Big 10, a very competitive conference that sent the most teams of any conference into the tournament.

“We wanted to make a statement with our block tonight, and I think we did a very good job,” said senior Rachael Adams. “We were ready and disciplined.”

Adams’ eight total blocks were a match high and she is now 11th all-time at Texas in blocks.

“Tonight’s blocking was exceptional,” Elliott said. “It just becomes relentless. We know at times we can be very overwhelming on the offensive end, but if we can be good from the defensive side, there are different ways that we can score.”

On Friday, the Longhorns were also relentless and swept Texas State, 25-15, 25-23, 25-15.

The Longhorns are going to work on their defense in practice this week in preparation for next Friday’s match against the University of Kentucky at the regional semifinal in Lexington. Although playing at Kentucky may seem like a disadvantage for the Longhorns, the team has thrived away from Gregory Gym.

Printed on Monday, December 5th, 2011 as: Blocking vital in Michigan State win