Blocking is proving to be the key for the Longhorns’ clutch play

Matt Warden

When the Longhorns begin conference play on Wednesday night, they’ll be under much less pressure than they were before. 

Fifth-ranked Texas (6-2) opens up Big 12 play against TCU after notching its third comeback victory of the season against Nebraska. The Longhorns amassed 16 blocks to the Cornhuskers’ nine, showcasing a defense that has propelled the team to victory all season.

“Blocking is an important aspect of this,” head coach Jerritt Elliot said. “Not so much about numbers, but more about how we are getting touches and putting pressure on teams.”

Texas has registered 91 total blocks this season compared to 65 for its opponents, while only recording 14 block errors. In the team’s eight games, only three foes have compiled more blocks.

Sophomore middle blocker Molly McCage has emerged as one of the Longhorns’ premier blockers after seven blocks against Nebraska brought her season total to 35. The top-ranked recruit of the class of 2012 takes special pride in defending the net.

“[Blocking] not only fires me up, but it fires my whole team up,” McCage said. “To have that solid defense on our side of the court is a huge advantage. All around we are a great blocking team, but to be able to contribute to that is a great feeling.”

The Longhorns’ stellar defense has buoyed the offensive charge as the team has outhit opponents .242-.226 this season. That production has forced opponents into 38 more attack errors this season and spearheaded a 4-1 record against ranked opponents for Texas.

“This team is really big on consistency, and I’ve improved in that as well by playing with my amazing teammates,” McCage said. “Everyone on the team has so much to contribute. I’m going to try my best to give them everything that I have, because they would and will do the same.”

Although Iowa State is the only other team in the Big 12 ranked in the Top 25, the Longhorns know the road doesn’t get any easier.

“We’re super excited. I feel like we ended preseason on a good note,” McCage said. “We’re ready to get back to the Big 12 and really ready to compete because we have a lot of in-state rivals, and I feel like that’ll prepare us well for the tournament.”