Ashlee

Tall. Athletic. Agile. Versatile. Good passer. Great teammate. High IQ. Good court vision.
Left unlabeled, a recruiting profile with those characteristics could fall on the desk of either volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott or women’s basketball head coach Gail Goestenkors.

Consequently, several Longhorns have illustrious memories on both courts from back in their high school days.

Junior middle blocker Rachael Adams was a dual-sport athlete at Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. In her senior year, Adams not only led her team to a volleyball state
championship but notched a basketball one as well. “There’s a couple of [former basketball players] on the team,” Adams said. “They’re all tall. They should’ve all played basketball.”

Others on the team include freshman setter Hannah Allison, junior outside hitter Amber Roberson and sophomore outside hitter Bailey Webster. And while hard work and dedication have helped guide their success at this level, being blessed with natural height and athleticism takes a little luck in the genetic lottery, as many members of the team come from a ackground of basketball prowess in the family.

Webster was a four-year letterman on the St. Paul School for Girls’ basketball team in Baltimore, Md. and garnered all-county honors her junior year. Her father, Elton, played two years ofbasketball at Tulane while her mother, Cedrina, played four years at Xavier.

Adams’ father Rich starred at Illinois before being drafted in the fourth round of the 1978 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs — which, coincidentally, was co-owned by current UT business school namesake Red McCombs at the time.

For Roberson, basketball is a full-blown family affair. Both of her parents attended New Mexico State, with her father, John, playing basketball and her mother, Lisa, a volleyball player. John’s sport seems to be winning the battle as most of Roberson’s six brothers and sisters chose basketball. Her older sister, Ashlee, played at Texas Tech and garnered Big 12 honors her senior year. Her brother, Andre, played his first game for Colorado last week, posting six points and 11 rebounds. And her sister, Arielle, is one of the most sought-after high school seniors in the nation, weighing offers from powerhouses including Texas.

Though ultimately choosing volleyball, Roberson was far from a shabby basketball player herself, leading Wagner High School in San Antonio to a state semifinal her senior year in lieu of garnering all-state honors. She said her childhood had its fair share of games of 21 and inter-family tournaments.

“We competed a lot,” Roberson said. “It was fun but sometimes there were tears. Usually, [my family is] talking about basketball 24/7, maybe volleyball one percent of the time. They’re still all supportive of me playing volleyball though, especially my mom.”

Allison was actually discouraged to continue playing basketball by her mom, Kelly, who starred at Baylor.

“My mom thought it’d be better I not play a contact sport for the rest of my life because I’m pretty competitive,” Allison said. “I try to keep them separate, but I love both of them. They’re just different.”

The easy-going Roberson said volleyball had always just been more fun.

“Honestly, a couple of us [on the team] have talked about basketball but nothing really drastic,” Roberson said. “Volleyball seemed my sport because it fits my personality.”

While Roberson chose the sport because it fit, Adams had her own reasons.

“I got to a point where the girls started getting bigger and sweatier, and I was like, I’m done,” Adams said.

Elliott said despite common skill sets, fewer athletes these days do both sports because of scheduling. Elliott tries to seek out athletes that will compete physically at the college level.

“The way it’s going now with sports is that you have to pick and choose at an early age because of AAU and club volleyball, and it’s hard to do both,” Elliott said. “We’re fortunate that a lot of these girls have picked volleyball but a lot of them stay with basketball too. It just shows that they’re multidimensional athletes.”

Amber Roberson’s dad played professional basketball overseas. Her mom played four years of volleyball at New Mexico State. Her older sister, Ashlee, garnered Big 12 Honorable Mention accolades as a basketball player at Texas Tech. And her high school coach, Demetria Sance-Padgitt, may be the greatest volleyball player to don a Longhorn uniform.

Most people with a background like Roberson might morph into a tightly-wound, forever rowning character. Yet the 6-foot-2-inch junior outside hitter maintains a constant calm, especially off the court.

“I’m kind of a go-with-the-flow [person],” Roberson said. “I’m usually pretty chill and relaxed.”

Heading into today’s matchup at Oklahoma, Roberson’s on-court performance has been anything but chill or relaxed. The San Antonio native has averaged 11.5 kills in the last four games, tying her career high of 13 twice as the Longhorns have gone 3-1 with the lone loss being to third- ranked Nebraska in Lincoln.

“Really, I don’t pay attention to numbers,” Roberson said. “I want to go out there and do what I need to do and try and help my team. [The statistics] kind of follow along with what I’m doing.”

Roberson was supposed to be a crucial part of the team’s new 5-1 offense from the start of the season but struggled with finding consistency. After freshman outside hitter Ashley Bannister became sidelined with an injury, Roberson made her way back into the starting lineup and has not looked back.

“I know in the beginning of the season, I was forcing it, so things just weren’t happening,” Roberson said. “At some point in the season, I just told myself, ‘All I have to do is play volleyball.’ That’s when I settled down a little bit more and got comfortable.”

Comfort is something head coach Jerritt Elliott has noticed Roberson achieve in the last few weeks. Elliott said Roberson’s game against Kansas State over the weekend was her best as a Longhorn, as she complemented her 10 kills with a solid defensive effort in the backcourt.

“The way she played in that match was great,” Elliott said. “For Amber, it’s about her getting comfortable with herself. We’ve always told her she has so much potential, and it’s more about her getting comfortable and believing in what we believe in. It’s been nice to see.”

Part of Roberson’s increased calm on the court can be attributed to contributions from the team’s leader, Juliann Faucette, who’s played a big part in not only accommodating the freshmen to the college campus but also in helping former role players ease into starting positions. Roberson and Faucette also teamed up in 2009 for the Collegiate Beach Nationals.

The duo, both outside hitters, gets together during pregame and writes down goals in the form of “trigger words” to focus on through the game.

“They’re just reminders so if we do need a reminder, we know which word we’re talking about and what that means,” Faucette said. “We want to make sure we’re doing the best we can.”

For example, the word “speed” serves as a reminder to move their feet and get to the ball faster.

In turn, Roberson has been working on increasing her own leadership skills and improving her decision-making on the court.

“I try to be more vocal,” Roberson said. “That way [Faucette] won’t have it all on her shoulders. And also, try to make smarter choices with the ball.”

And while Roberson’s emergence has been sudden and her performance dominant, she promises that she can get a lot better.

“I’m pretty sure there’s a whole lot more you can see,” Roberson. “It’s just a way of me bringing it out and [putting together] pieces.”

Amber Roberson’s dad played professional basketball overseas. Her mom played four years of volleyball at New Mexico State. Her older sister, Ashlee, garnered Big 12 Honorable Mention accolades as a basketball player at Texas Tech. And her high school coach, Demetria Sance-Padgitt, may be the greatest volleyball player to don a Longhorn uniform.

Most people with a background like Roberson might morph into a tightly-wound, forever rowning character. Yet the 6-foot-2-inch junior outside hitter maintains a constant calm, especially off the court.

“I’m kind of a go-with-the-flow [person],” Roberson said. “I’m usually pretty chill and relaxed.”

Heading into today’s matchup at Oklahoma, Roberson’s on-court performance has been anything but chill or relaxed. The San Antonio native has averaged 11.5 kills in the last four games, tying her career high of 13 twice as the Longhorns have gone 3-1 with the lone loss being to third- ranked Nebraska in Lincoln.

“Really, I don’t pay attention to numbers,” Roberson said. “I want to go out there and do what I need to do and try and help my team. [The statistics] kind of follow along with what I’m doing.”

Roberson was supposed to be a crucial part of the team’s new 5-1 offense from the start of the season but struggled with finding consistency. After freshman outside hitter Ashley Bannister became sidelined with an injury, Roberson made her way back into the starting lineup and has not looked back.

“I know in the beginning of the season, I was forcing it, so things just weren’t happening,” Roberson said. “At some point in the season, I just told myself, ‘All I have to do is play volleyball.’ That’s when I settled down a little bit more and got comfortable.”

Comfort is something head coach Jerritt Elliott has noticed Roberson achieve in the last few weeks. Elliott said Roberson’s game against Kansas State over the weekend was her best as a Longhorn, as she complemented her 10 kills with a solid defensive effort in the backcourt.

“The way she played in that match was great,” Elliott said. “For Amber, it’s about her getting comfortable with herself. We’ve always told her she has so much potential, and it’s more about her getting comfortable and believing in what we believe in. It’s been nice to see.”

Part of Roberson’s increased calm on the court can be attributed to contributions from the team’s leader, Juliann Faucette, who’s played a big part in not only accommodating the freshmen to the college campus but also in helping former role players ease into starting positions. Roberson and Faucette also teamed up in 2009 for the Collegiate Beach Nationals.

The duo, both outside hitters, gets together during pregame and writes down goals in the form of “trigger words” to focus on through the game.

“They’re just reminders so if we do need a reminder, we know which word we’re talking about and what that means,” Faucette said. “We want to make sure we’re doing the best we can.”

For example, the word “speed” serves as a reminder to move their feet and get to the ball faster.

In turn, Roberson has been working on increasing her own leadership skills and improving her decision-making on the court.

“I try to be more vocal,” Roberson said. “That way [Faucette] won’t have it all on her shoulders. And also, try to make smarter choices with the ball.”

And while Roberson’s emergence has been sudden and her performance dominant, she promises that she can get a lot better.

“I’m pretty sure there’s a whole lot more you can see,” Roberson. “It’s just a way of me bringing it out and [putting together] pieces.”