Texas has been utilizing a large freshman class this year in order to overcome the loss of four high-performing seniors at the conclusion of the 2011 season. Over the weekend, the freshmen had a solid couple of games earning much praise from the modest crowd at Gregory.
Outside hitter Nicole Dalton saw an increase in playing time over the weekend, turning in 12 kills and 34 digs with 16 assists. Dalton secured the come from behind victory during set two against Cincinnati with sophomore Khat Bell with back-to-back blocks.
“She does a great job at talking, being excited,” said sophomore outside hitter Haley Eckerman said of Dalton. “Just being a team player and overall along with the other freshman too.”
The crowd often chanted for libero Kat Brooks especially after three serving aces during the loss to Illinois in game one. A few incredible saves later, the support for the 5-foot-4-inch Hawaiian native was reaching that of fellow junior libero Sarah Palmer.
After loss, Longhorns fight for final two wins
The No. 6 Longhorns dropped a hard-fought five-set battle against No. 23 Illinois Friday night full of errors and missed opportunities. However, Texas bounced back and swept their final two opponents, finishing 2-1 on the weekend.
However, despite sweeping Cincinnati, the Bearcats kept the score close through all three sets of Texas’ second game. There were nine lead change s and 24 tied scores in the match. The first two sets against the Bearcats went to extra-points as the Longhorns fought to win, 30-28, and, 28-26.
By keeping the game close, Cincinnati forced the Longhorns to prove that they’re able to win close, scrappy fights. Texas came out Saturday afternoon against the University of Central Florida Knights to win in three sets, this time easily, by an average of 11.5 points per set.
Eckerman dominates despite errors
Eckerman has become a staple of highlight reels, and rightfully so. This past weekend, Eckerman had a stand out game against Cincinnati while turning in an impressive overall performance in three games.
Against Cincinnati, Eckerman turned in a career-high 23 kills while hitting .487. She also tied her career-high dig count with six against Cincinnati. Over the weekend, she had 55 kills and 22 digs while hitting .318.
Despite the impressive statistics, Eckerman had trouble with her serves over the weekend, committing 13 service errors, almost half of the 29 committed by the Longhorn team.
“We talk about that in practice and try to maintain our error percentage,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said of the high number of errors this weekend. “We were high in sets one and two (against Cincinnati). We had a total of 29 errors, so we pretty much scored 45 percent of the points for the other teams.”
Printed on Monday, September 17, 2012 as: Texas relies on freshmen in invitational weekend