Texas volleyball takes on Mustangs in spring home opener

Nick Castillo

When Texas takes the court Friday against SMU, the team will be missing four players.

Freshman libero Cat McCoy is day-to-day after re-aggravating a foot injury during the USA Volleyball tryouts. McCoy was the team’s starting libero in 2014 and didn’t play at the team’s season opener in Hawaii on March 19.

Sophomore utility player Nicole Dalton is out for the spring as she rehabs an injury in order to be fully prepared for the fall season.

Texas lost junior middle blocker Sara Hattis after she decided to join the women’s basketball team full-time. The Longhorns will also be without junior outside hitter Tiffany Baker, who plans to take a medical redshirt to recover from an ongoing knee injury. Baker played sparingly in 2014.

For the first time in four years, Texas volleyball will also take the court in Gregory Gym without Haley Eckerman and Khat Bell.

Eckerman and Bell finished their four-year careers at Texas with four Big 12 championships, three NCAA Final Four appearances and an NCAA Championship.

Eckerman was a two-time AVCA First-Team All-American, named the 2013 Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year and a two-time Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. Bell was the 2012 COBRA Magazine Defensive National Player of the Year, a two-time AVCA All-America honorable mention and a three-time All-Big 12 First Team honoree.

The Longhorns began their first spring season without the duo in early March. Texas dropped the game against the Rainbow Warriors 3–1 (25–15, 20–25, 15–25, 23–25). 

Outside hitters junior Amy Neal and sophomore Paulina Prieto Cerame led Texas with 12 kills. Junior libero Kat Brooks also led the team with 23 digs. Texas’ middle blockers, junior Molly McCage, sophomore Chiaka Ogbogu and freshman Mirta Baselovic, had eight blocks each. Sophomore setter Chloe Collins amassed 34 assists.

The Longhorns take on SMU at 6 p.m. on the Longhorn Network. Texas will continue spring play in Houston at the F.A.S.T.  Tournament, followed by the Collegiate Showcase in Dallas, and will conclude the spring season with a game against UTSA on April 24.