Although the No. 17 ranked Longhorns are led by two ranked players — freshman Soren Hess-Olesen at No. 77 and junior Daniel Whitehead at No. 99 — the player currently on a hot streak is unranked sophomore David Holiner.
Going into last night’s matchup against the St. Edwards Hilltoppers, Holiner was on a nine match win streak that started back in February. Along the way, Holiner picked up wins against some tough opponents on ranked teams such as Florida State, Oklahoma and Baylor. Holiner also scored a three-set upset against a USC opponent, who was ranked No. 41, to give Texas its only point in the 6-1 defeat to the No. 1 ranked team in the country.
Holiner’s game seems to have improved greatly from last season, when he only appeared in seven dual matches and had a 13-10 record. This year, Holiner has appeared in 16 matches, and has a 24-7 record, and is perfect in conference play.
Against the Hilltoppers, Holiner got the chance to continue his win streak while playing at the top of the singles lineup against Ned Boone.
In the first set, the two players held serve to force a tiebreak. After rushing to a 4-2 lead, a couple of missed shots from Holiner allowed Boone to even the tiebreak score at five all. Holiner’s return into the net at 5-6 gave Boone the set.
In the second set Holiner was up 2-1 when he riled off three straight points to give himself triple breakpoint, which he was able to convert to go up three games to one in the second set. Holiner followed with a hold, as did Boone to make the score 4-2. Holiner used powerful serves for a 5-2 lead, before getting the final break to take the second set, 6-2, and force a super tiebreaker to determine the third set and the match.
Holiner started the tiebreaker off by winning the first point, although the two players would trade points back and forth for much of the tiebreak. Holiner hit a well-executed drop shot to go up 3-2, but needed a volley winner to tie it back up at 4 all. A shot from Boone that landed in the net, evened the score at 5 all, then 6 all, before Boone’s overhead winner gave him an 8-6 lead. Holiner’s next shot landed long, giving Boone match point, which he won when Holiner short-hopped a volley into the net.
Even though the loss put an end to Holiner’s win streak, his play showed why he has been such a contributing factor in the Longhorns’ wins, and losses, so far this season. Holiner uses a strong serve to catch his opponents off guard, and then follows it up with some solid volleying skills. While Texas is 1-2 in conference matches, Holiner has posted three straight wins to give Texas a point on the boards.
Holiner will need to shake this loss off before Saturday’s matchup against No. 27 Texas A&M, as the team will be counting on him to come through with a win, and potentially match-deciding point, against the Aggies.
Printed on Thursday, April 12, 2012 as:Despite loss, Holiner still proves worth