Horns heading to Minnesota

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Freshman outside hitter Khat Bell, pictured above in orange, has quickly become one of the team’s vocal leaders on the court. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns are feeling pretty good about themselves going into their first road trip of the season to Minnesota. They are the fourth-ranked team in the country, carry a perfect record in NCAA thus far and are starting to come together as a team.

“We’re making big strides. Obviously, it’s a work in progress, and we have a long way to go. Normally, the first weekend is tough,” said head coach Jerritt Elliott. “In the first matches, there is a lot of anxiety for all the teams that play, and we are just trying to find the comfort zone and rhythm that we have.”

Many of the obstacles that this team is working through concern a new group of players being infused into the line-up while seeing significant playing time. With two freshmen, Khat Bell and Haley Eckerman, starting, there is a bit of an adjustment period with team chemistry to find the perfect mix.

“We have so much youth,” Elliott said. “Last night, we were commenting on how Haley Cameron had never started a match and all three freshmen played. We have a very young group out there that doesn’t have a lot of experience, so we’re just trying to get them acclimated to playing at that level.”

The freshmen are catching on quickly though, getting over early-season nerves to perform well and become key cogs in the Longhorns’ system.

“I think every day it gets better,” Eckerman said. “We still have a lot to work to do, but I think day by day, game by game, we kind of get more comfortable with relaxing and not having the nerves.”

“For me, the first couple games were kind of nervous, and after certain plays, I would be nervous. After the third or fourth game, I was able to relax and just focus.”

The freshmen and the seniors alike will experience their first road test of the season, heading up to Minnesota to face the No. 11 Gophers.

This will be the toughest test yet on the season for Texas, as this is the first ranked opponent it will play. Add to that the hostile environment the Longhorns will face, and they could have a difficult early match on their hands.

“It will be a hostile environment for the team,” Adams said. “It’s a great test so we can continue to grow and build.”

Printed on Friday, September 2, 2011 as: Young team matures quickly, prepares for first road trip to MN.