Two teams, two sports, two genders, two National Championship appearances a season ago and two programs moving in completely opposite directions.
Jerritt Elliott’s resilient group has reeled off eight straight and has rebounded from an early tough stretch while Mack Brown’s football squad has disappointed of late. Both programs were at the top of their games in 2009, but each team has had its share of roadblocks this year.
Elliott has rallied the troops as injuries ravaged Texas’ bench, but the team has stepped up and made a convincing run with sweeps in six of their eight games over the unbeaten streak. The Longhorns were at the top of their game last week when No. 2 Nebraska came to town, and followed the upset with a dominant win over the Buffaloes in Boulder.
“I was very pleased with the way we bounced back today after a big win over Nebraska on Wednesday night,” Elliott said. “It was an emotional victory against Nebraska and we showed good focus by coming out tonight and taking care of our side of the net.”
Senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette ignited the Longhorns on Saturday with 11 kills and five blocks while junior outside hitter Amber Roberson continued her impressive play of late with a team-high 14 kills. Faucette had a match-best 16.5 points to carry Texas.
“She along with Amber took the team on their backs in the third and it was impressive to watch,” Elliott said.
After their convincing road sweep of Colorado on Saturday, the Longhorns are poised to make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament, which is a little more than a month away. Texas’ eight-match win streak has them looking like championship contenders.
A look at the Longhorns schedule tells two things: Texas has the chance to run the table the rest of the way, and the only potential roadblock could be at Iowa State on Nov. 27 — the regular season finale. The Longhorns have four of their next six games at home against middle-of-the-pack opponents.
Texas has three road matches left with two against teams with losing records in conference — Baylor and Texas Tech. Iowa State presents the toughest challenge to Texas, who upset the Cyclones 3-2 on Sept. 29 in Austin. The Cyclones sit two spots behind the Longhorns in the national polls — they are the only ranked opponent on Texas’ schedule.
The Longhorns return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. at Gregory Gym against Oklahoma.