Surging Horns put streak to test

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The Longhorns have dropped one set in the last five matches. Some may forget that things looked much grimmer less than a month ago.

Texas hopes to build on its five-game winning streak as it hosts Kansas State tonight at Gregory Gym. The team has won eight of its last nine matches, including five in a row at home.

The team also started the week back in the top 10, after a four-week absence. The Longhorns are ranked 10th in the country and second in the Big 12 behind Nebraska, holding one-game leads over Iowa State and Oklahoma.

The Longhorns face off against Kansas State for the second time this month after sweeping the Wildcats 25-21, 25-16, 25-12 in Manhattan.

“Our offensive numbers have really grown,” said head coach Jerritt Elliot. “It’s been great. Players have been stepping up and we’ve gotten a lot of good balance from our offense, [which is] a key for us to be successful.”

The star of the Longhorns over the last few games has been junior outside hitter Amber Roberson, who strung together a career-high 19 kills to go along with eight digs and three blocks against Kansas on Wednesday. Roberson surpassed her previous career high of 17 kills, which she set last weekend against Texas Tech.

“She’s just got a lot more confidence,” Elliott said. “Yesterday was probably her best match we’ve seen her play. She really kept them off balance all night long.”

A major component of the team’s recent success can be attributed to continuity, something the seemingly injury-prone Longhorns have not enjoyed the luxury of doing. For the most part, Texas has been able to stick with the same starting six in its lineup, along with freshman libero Sarah Palmer and senior outside hitter Lauren Dickson.

The only exception in the last few weeks has been freshman setter Hannah Allison who remains day-to-day. The team has not missed a beat with junior setter and assistant co-captain Michelle Kocher stepping in. Kocher tallied a season-high 49 assists on Wednesday.

Because of the game being scheduled for today as opposed to the more typical Saturday, the Longhorns will look to adjust to a quicker turnaround. Roberson said the team will be approaching the game the same way.

“A game is a game,” Roberson said. “You still have to prepare and go through the same routine. There’s not really much of a difference other than the time limit.”

Elliott said the team will benefit from already having played the Wildcats once, as well as coming off a string of good performances.

“We’re pretty familiar with what they’re doing,” Elliott said. “They’ve made some minor adjustments and we’ll make some adjustments, too. More so this year, it’s worrying about what we’re doing on our side of the net.”