Horns look to take two in conference opener

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Two hundred is the number of yards in two football fields, the number of pennies in two dollars.

It’s also the number of conference wins UT head volleyball coach Jerritt Elliott will have under his belt if the Longhorns bring in another victory Wednesday at West Virginia.

That monumental number in Elliott’s career marks the start of a promising season for the No. 2-ranked Longhorns, who will dive into Big 12 play at West Virginia.

Texas ended last year with a 25-5 record and an NCAA regional final appearance.

The Longhorns began this season with a blistering 3-0 sweep of LSU on Friday at the 26 West Longhorns Classic, marking the 31st consecutive home victory in Gregory Gym.

Returning All-American outside hitter Haley Eckerman had 16 kills and committed only one hitting error. Fellow returning All-American outside hitter Bailey Webster had 10 kills, while freshman libero Kat Brooks made her collegiate debut with 13 digs. Texas committed just six hitting errors to defeat the Tigers.

“I think we have improved a lot,” junior libero Sarah Palmer said. “Overall, we have always been an offensive team. We just set up everything well and can execute it really well into our game plan.”

The tournament continued Saturday as Texas swept Cal Poly for a 3-0 victory over the Mustangs. Utility player Sha’Dare McNeal had four blocks, four digs, one assist and only two hitting errors to lead the Longhorns to victory.

Eckerman had five kills, three service aces, four digs and two blocks, while Webster had seven kills, four digs and three blocks.

Freshman middle blocker Molly McCage had two digs, eight blocks and four kills in nine attempts without errors. Despite claiming 12 of the final 20 points of the game, the Mustangs could not overcome a powerful Longhorn offense.

Texas also took on the No. 19 San Diego Toreros on Saturday, ending with another 3-0 sweep to win the tournament.

Eckerman was named tournament MVP after marking 35 kills and scoring 44.5 points. Twelve Longhorn blocks aggravated the San Diego offense, which hit .083 in the match.

Outside hitter/setter Nicole Dalton had 49 assists throughout the tournament, while junior setter Hannah Allison had 48.

McNeal, Webster and Dalton were named to the all-tournament team. Texas now leads the nation in home-win streaks with 33 matches.

After heading to West Virginia, the Longhorns will embark to the Nike Big Four Volleyball Classic this weekend to face Florida and Penn State.

“We have some pieces that we think are pretty solid,” Elliott said. “Our middle blocking court is really good. It is a good group. I like our demeanor, competitiveness and composure.”