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The goal for Texas all season had been to make up for their loss in the national semifinals to unseeded Wisconsin a year ago.

But Thursday night the Longhorns’ run towards another national championship came to a screeching halt in the form of BYU and its formidable block.

The Cougars sent the Longhorns scrambling with 17 blocks and held Texas to a tournament-low.162 hitting percentage and came away with a 3-1 upset to kick the Longhorns out of the tournament and advance to the national title game for the first time in their history.

“Their block caused a lot of problems for us,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “They got a lot of good touches and a lot of blocks and that took us out of offense a bit.”

Though tough early on, it appeared as though Texas had the early upper hand, breaking on a 3-0 run to take a 15-12 lead into the media timeout. But with a 15-13 lead, the Longhorns had shot after shot blocked by the BYU front line, only for BYU to finally put the point away to get the set back to 15-14. The Cougars would then go on to tie set at 15 and eventually won it 25-23.

The second set, however, much like the second set against North Carolina, went way out of Texas’ favor. With the score tied at nine, BYU went on a 10-2 run, which included four blocks by the Cougars to take a 19-11 lead en route to a 25-16 set win.

But coming out of intermission, a new Texas team emerged. Needing a set win to keep the match alive, the Longhorns fired a .357 hitting percentage and kept the Cougars from getting any blocks in the set. After BYU hung around to tie the set at 17-all, Texas fired off an 8-0 run to force the match to a fourth set.

In that fourth set, the Longhorns held off Cougar run after Cougar run to stay alive. Fighting off one match point at 24-23, Texas appeared to be set up for a set point after an attack by BYU senior opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson went long. However, the down official, who was furthest away from the play, called that there was a touch, giving BYU a match point that they would convert to win the match.

“I think I can't comment on refereeing, but I can comment where I think the sport needs to go and I think we need to look at some instant replays and some abilities to make some calls, because it's difficult when you get a two‑point switch and your kids tried as hard as they did,” Elliott, who was given a yellow card for arguing the call, said.

When their attacks weren’t being block, the Longhorns had to deal with the Cougars managing to seemingly dig up every ball to set up their attack. The BYU backline came up with 52 digs, which then allowed BYU to drill 57 kills.

“We just wanted to make sure that we had each other's backs,” BYU senior outside hitter Tambre Nobles said. “We wanted our hitters to go up and have the confidence to take big swings knowing our defense would have our back if we got blocked.”

One bright spot for Texas in the loss was sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu. Ogbogu finished the night with a team-high and a career-high 14 kills and posted a hitting percentage of .500 as the Longhorns tried to feed the ball to the middle of the court to throw off the BYU block.

“I think it's a change in playing with the middles a lot more, getting them involved in the game is what made a difference for sure,” senior outside hitter Khat Bell said. “They were able to spread the offense a lot more and get the BYU's middles to bite a little bit.”

The loss ends Texas’ season in the national semifinal round for the second straight year. Last year Texas was upset by Wisconsin after many thought the Longhorns overlooked the Badgers. This year, however, Elliott thought they did a good job in preparing for their unseeded opponent.

“I told our staff, ‘Look, if we don't win this match it wasn't because we didn't prepare the right way, it wasn't because of the talk we had,’” Elliott said.

Elliott said he will give the players a break and then ask them questions about every part of the program before they “pick up the pieces and build a new puzzle and try to figure it out again.” But for seniors Haley Eckerman and Bell, this was their last match in a Texas uniform. Still, Eckerman, who has seemed to become the face of the program in her time on the Forty Acres, said they went out strong.

“It’s hard as a loss but we know that we fought and that that game could have gone either way,” Eckerman said. “And if we would have gone into a fifth set, we knew that we could take over a game."

Seven Big 12 teams began this year’s NCAA Tournament and now only two remain; the Baylor Bears and Iowa State Cyclones have each punched a ticket to the Sweet Sixteen.

Baylor, after an upset win over number three seed Creighton in the third round, is one of the hottest teams in the field of sixteen, having won an impressive 12 of its last 15 games.

The Iowa State Cyclones are now the highest seeded team left in the East Region after a dramatic victory over the always-competitive North Carolina Tar Heels led by Roy Williams.

As the field gets smaller, the competition obviously gets tougher. Here is how I see the rest of this year’s tournament playing out for the two remaining Big 12 schools.

First we have Baylor in the West Region. The Wisconsin Badgers are the next opponent for the Bears.

Wisconsin finished second in the Big 10 this season, one of the toughest conferences in college basketball, but the Badgers have failed to move past the round of 16 in recent years.

I think this will be the year Wisconsin breaks that trend.

Baylor’s field goal percentage over the last two games is ridiculous. The Bears shot an astounding 68% to move past Creighton in the round of 32. But they can’t stay hot forever.

Wisconsin is a much more disciplined team, from a strong conference, and should take care of Baylor to go on and face Arizona in the Elite 8.

I’m sticking with the Iowa State Cyclones as the Big 12’s best bet to advance to the Elite 8.

The Cyclones have played well throughout the tournament and have been very efficient in scoring, especially down the stretch against North Carolina when they needed it most.

The Huskies are up next. Connecticut escaped Saint Joseph’s in round one to go on and upset two-seeded Villanova by 12 in the round of 32.

UConn finished third in the American Athletic Conference this season and will be a formidable opponent for the Cyclones in the Sweet Sixteen.

This will be a clash of Connecticut’s potent defense and Iowa State’s high-powered offense. ISU finished the season in the top ten in scoring and first in assists per game.

The Huskies can swat, averaging over six blocks a game this season while holding teams to an average of just 64 points.

I’ve watched the Cyclones all season long and their offense is consistent. I like Iowa State to move ahead and play Michigan State in the Elite Eight, despite the loss of Georges Niang.

But, the Cyclones will need that depth to get past MSU. After the injury (broken foot) to Niang, the depth simply is not be there for Fred Hoiberg.

The experience of Tom Izzo and his Spartans will overpower the Cyclones, ending their bid for a spot in this year’s Final Four. 

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

The Daily Texan sent a writer and a photographer to Seattle, Wash. to cover the NCAA Women's Volleyball Final Four, in which the top-ranked Longhorns lost to No. 12 Wisconsin in the semifinals. Here are some other scenes from the city.

Numbers can reveal a lot about what worked during a season and what didn’t for teams. Here are five numbers from Texas’ volleyball campaign, which ended in the Final Four against Wisconsin on Thursday, which really stand out.
7: The number of reception errors Texas had in the Final Four against Wisconsin. The Longhorns had been good all season in that area, only twice did they commit seven reception errors, but both times were costly – both losses. As head coach Jerritt Elliott said after the defeat, “It’s a serve and receive game.”

335: The number of blocks on the year for Texas. This number puts them at sixth in the nation, with the only other major conference team ranking ahead of them being Penn State. The Longhorns’ blocking was a big reason for the team’s successful season. Texas’ three leading blockers—Molly McCage, Khat Bell and Chiaka Ogbogu—all return.

4-2:  Texas’ record on neutral courts this season. At home: 13-0. On the road: 10-1. On neutral courts, the Longhorns struggled to find a comfort zone. Even Haley Eckerman noted that playing in Key Arena in the Final Four threw them off.

.252: Texas’ hitting percentage on the year against non-conference foes. In conference they hit .325, but struggled against the better blocks outside the Big 12. Texas’ weak conference schedule helped inflate the Longhorns’ hitting numbers.

.122: Big 12 Freshman of the Year Chiaka Ogbogu’s hitting percentage in the NCAA tournament, if you take out her dominating performance against American in the Sweet 16. Throughout the Big 12 regular season, she was just that – dominant. Ogbogu ranked second in the Big 12 in conference play, hitting .386. Outside of the American game, though, she disappeared. Texas needs her to be a major factor next season.


Head coach Jerritt Elliott: “I was shocked by how many errors [we had]."

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

SEATTLE, Wash. — Earlier today The Daily Texan took a look at Texas' five keys to the game to beat Wisconsin in the Final Four. At the end of the night, No. 1 Texas lost to the 12th-ranked Badgers in four sets. So, what went wrong?

The Longhorns only found success in one of the five targeted areas. They could have gotten away with one or two, but four proved too costly. 

1) Stop Ellen Chapman

This was the only one of the five keys the Longhorns in which succeeded. Chapman hit just .189 on 53 attempts. Texas’ block controlled the Wisconsin attack except for a few tools here and there. The Texas frontline recorded 19 blocks, a season high.

“Blocking was just about the only thing we did well,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said.  

2) Be ready for Lauren Carlini

The Big Ten's Freshman of the Year completely outplayed the Longhorns' setters. Carlini recorded 50 assists and 12 digs. On the other hand, senior setter Hannah Allison  recorded just 33. Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield called his setter one of the best in the nation.

“She lives for moments like this,” he said.

3) Outside hitters

Outside hitters senior Bailey Webster and junior Haley Eckerman both hit under .150. The low numbers are a little skewed by the poor passing on the Longhorns’ part, but the two All-Americans underperformed on the biggest stage. Sixty of the 147 attacks were by Eckerman, while Webster only had 27. The only hitter that did better than .300 was sophomore middle blocker Molly McCage (.385).

“They challenged us to hit other spots,” Eckerman said. “They did a good job adjusting.”

4) Eliminate Errors

Seven aces allowed, two blocking errors, two handling errors, nine serve errors and 23 hitting errors combined for a total of 43 errors for the Longhorns. Texas did everything possible to prevent it from winning.

“It’s tough to win with 43 errors,” Elliott said. “I was shocked by how many errors [we had].”

5) Win the service battle

This is where Texas lost the game. The Longhorns were aced seven times. They had another nine service errors of their own. But, even more so than those two numbers, Texas’ inability to make good passes off the Badger serve cost it the game. Wisconsin’s serve kept Texas out of system the whole game, and the Longhorns couldn’t find a way to get through it.

“We were so out of sorts,” Elliott said. “We didn’t pass well. It’s a serve-and-pass game.”

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

SEATTLE, Wash. — At first, the crowd almost entirely University of Washington fans couldn’t believe what they saw. A scrappy, underdog Badger team dominated the top-ranked Longhorns from the start. But then something odd happened: Wisconsin never stopped.

An early 8-3 lead in Set 1 snowballed into a 2-0 match lead. At that point, Wisconsin and the crowd believed the upset was possible. Texas fought back and looked to regain control in the fourth set, but, in the critical moment, the Badgers took control

When the final point hit the ground, the fans let out huge roar. The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers had advanced to the NCAA championship over the No. 1 Longhorns 3-1 (25-19, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23), ending Texas’ repeat national championship bid.

“We played our poorest game of the year,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We didn’t serve well. We didn’t pass well. We didn’t hit well. It’s tough to win with 43 hitting errors.”

The Longhorns started off flat in Wisconsin’s opening run. They committed four service errors, allowed three aces and failed to give their hitters an opportunity to put balls away. After cutting the lead to 20-19, the Badgers rallied for five straight points to take the first game. Despite hitting more efficiently and executing more blocks, the Longhorns weren’t able to overcome the early deficit.

“For some reason, we got on our heels off the bat,” Elliott said. “We couldn’t figure it out.”

Game 2 didn’t go any better for Texas. The Longhorns fell behind 10-3 early because of a myriad of troubles in returning the serve. They cleaned that up later in the set but failed to produce any kind of extended run and lost the set 25-18.

“We had to serve fearlessly,” Wisconsin head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “We kept them out of system. We have one of the best backcourts in the country, and they needed to make the digs today.”

Texas was forced moved into survival mode in Game 3 and managed to endure. After back-and-forth play all game, with both teams struggling to kill the ball, Texas found itself with two game points at 25-23. But Wisconsin, like it had all night, responded. It wasn’t enough though, as two errors extended the match to a fourth set.

But Texas couldn’t endure another late Badger run. After controlling the game the entire set, Wisconsin clawed back to take the fourth game, and the match, late.

“We are used to teams trying to serve tough,” senior setter Hannah Allison said. “That is the only way to throw us off, and they executed that well.”

In the match, both teams struggled offensively. Texas hit .156; Wisconsin .131.

The loss was the Longhorns first since non-conference play, which ended a repeat national title bid and a season that already included the first undefeated Big 12 run in school history.

“Nineteen blocks and they hit .131,” Elliott said. “If you told me that before the match I’d say we win 90 percent of the time. We managed our game poorly. It stinks that we played our poorest game of the year today.”

Read here: Five takeaways from Texas' loss to Wisconsin

1. Keep an eye on Ellen Chapman

The junior from Ohio set the NCAA season records for kills. Freshman Chiaka Ogbogu and middle blockers Molly McCage and Khat Bell will be focused on her the whole match.

2. Be ready for the unexpected set

While much of the attention will be on Chapman, Wisconsin’s freshman setter Lauren Carlini is one of the best in the country at spreading the ball, earning her All-Big Ten and Big Ten Freshman of the year honors. She isn’t afraid to send it to any hitter at any time and will look to keep the Badger attack away from the Texas block. So while the Longhorns will be primarily focused on Chapman, they need to be ready for anything.

3. The outside hitters

Texas, led by junior All-American Haley Eckerman and last year’s tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Bailey Webster, is the stronger and more physical team. Senior setter Hannah Allison needs to feed the big hitters and let them hit it over the block. If Webster and Eckerman are on their game, the Badgers won’t be in the match for long

4. Eliminate Errors

The best way to keep an inferior team in the game is through errors. Texas has done a good job in the tournament thus far limiting their hitting errors, but the Longhorns’ service errors continue to pile up. Amy Neal and Haley Eckerman need to make sure they get the serves over the net while maintaining their effectiveness.

5. Win the service battle

When Texas passes well, they are nearly unbeatable. With a great serve receive game, there won’t be many rallies. Wisconsin is going to go for the tougher serves to keep the Texas attack off the net.

Photo Credit: Eric Park | Daily Texan Staff

Months of waking up before dawn and long practices are about to pay off for the men’s cross country team. 

Texas is entering the most important part of its year — championship season. The men will participate in the Big 12 Cross Country Championships, the first step to reaching the
NCAA South Regionals and the NCAA National Championship. 

The Longhorns had early season success, finishing second at the Baylor Invitational and winning both the Ricardo Romo Classic and the Texas Invitational. But Texas struggled at the Wisconsin Invitational, finishing 18th out of 36 teams. 

Head coach Brad Herbster blamed the struggles at Wisconsin to a lack of consistency. The team was not able to stay together in a pack, which caused the disappointing finish.

But the team realizes it still has an opportunity to accomplish its goals. This season, Texas has changed its focus from individual success to team success.

“When you start throwing more elements into the team there are sacrifices made, meaning extra hours of training,” junior All-American Craig Lutz said. “[Are these sacrifices] worth winning a national title? Most would say yes. Most people want to feel that. Winning nationals would definitely be an even better experience.”

Texas features seasoned runners such as Lutz, senior All-American Ryan Dohner, senior Austin Roth and junior Mark Pinales. Texas will rely on Lutz and Dohner to help them advance further into the championship season. 

“We’re trying to be national champions,” Lutz said. “I feel like I’m at the national level to help us get points for the team.” 

Helping Texas advance to the round will be a big accomplishment for Lutz after struggling down the stretch with injuries last season. For the team’s six seniors, this will be their last opportunity to get to nationals and bring Texas its first cross country national championship. 

“This year is [our] last year here,” Roth said. “We have a really solid team this year. We want to get the most out of the last chance [we] have. For us, we put in all this work to win
a championship.”

Standing in Texas’ way are talented Big 12 foes from the Longhorns’ border rivals to the North. 

“Our men’s team will be in a good battle with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, both teams currently ranked ahead of us on the national poll,” Herbster said. 

Herbster expects Texas to rebound from their disappointing performance at the Wisconsin Adidas Invitational. 

“We did not do a good job of packing it in at Wisconsin,” Herbster said. “That is the focus at Big 12 [schools]. Be where you need to be when you need to be there.”

The Big 12 Championship is in Waco on Nov. 2. 

Despite a strong, third-place finish from the senior All-American Marielle Hall, Texas placed 26th in the field of 37 with 629 points in the fifth-annual Wisconsin Adidas Invitational this past weekend in Madison, Wis.

Hall, who beat out 285 other runners in the 6,000-meter race, set a personal-best time of 19:46. Senior Megan Siebert was the next best runner for Texas finishing 76th. 

After that, though, the Texas women didn’t finish strongly, with the remaining seven runners all finishing 158th or worse and five of those in the 200s. 

Arizona finished first and featured four runners in the top 25, while Dartmouth’s Abbey D’Agostino finished first overall. 

The Longhorns enter the championships portion of their season following this weekend’s meet. The Big 12 Championships will be held Nov. 2 and the NCAA South Central Region meet will follow on Nov. 15, with both meets being hosted by Baylor in Waco. 

People vote early during at a polling place in downtown Chicago, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. About 30 million people have already voted in 34 states and the District of Columbia, either by mail or in person.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The White House the prize, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney raced through a final full day of campaigning on Monday through Ohio and other battleground states holding the keys to victory in a tight race. Both promised brighter days ahead for a nation still struggling with a sluggish economy and high joblessness.

“Our work is not done yet,” Obama told a cheering crowd of nearly 20,000 in chilly Madison, Wis., imploring his audience to give him
another four years.

Romney projected optimism as he neared the end of his six-year quest for the presidency. “If you believe we can do better. If you believe America should beon a better course.

If you’re tired of being tired ... then I ask you to vote for real change,” he said in a Virginia suburb of the nation’s capital. With many of the late polls in key states tilting slightly against him, he decided to campaign on Election Day in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he and Republicans made a big, late push.

The presidency aside, there are 33 Senate seats on the ballot Tuesday, and according to one Republican official, a growing sense of resignation among his party’s rank and file that Democrats will hold their majority.

The situation was reversed in the House, where Democrats made no claims they were on the verge of victory in pursuit of the 25 seats they need to gain control.

National opinion polls in the presidential race made the popular vote a virtual tie.

In state-by-state surveys, it appeared Obama held small advantages in Nevada, Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin — enough to deliver a second term if they endured, but not so significant that they could withstand an Election Day surge by Romney supporters. Both men appealed to an ever smaller universe of undecided voters.

More than 30 million absentee or early ballots have been cast, including in excess of 3 million in Florida. The state also had a legal controversy, in the form of a Democratic lawsuit seeking an extension of time for pre-Election Day voting.

There were other concerns, logistical rather than legal.

Officials in one part of New Jersey delivered voting equipment to emergency shelters so voters displaced by Superstorm Sandy last week could cast ballots. New York City made arrangements for shuttle buses to provide transportation for some in hard-hit areas unable to reach their polling places.

In his longest campaign day, Romney raced from Florida to a pair of speeches in Virginia to Ohio and then an election eve rally in New Hampshire.

Obama selected Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa for his final campaign day, an itinerary that reflected his campaign’s decision to try to erect a Midwestern firewall against Romney’s challenge. Vice President Joe Biden and Republican running mate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin went through their final campaign paces, as well.