Thirteen, a number commonly associated with bad luck and general dread, could be the Longhorns’ lucky break Saturday.
Texas will make its way to Lawrence, Kan., to face the second-ranked team in the Big 12. Should the Longhorns win, a new record will be set for best start in Big 12 play since head coach Jerritt Elliott took the reins. 13-0 is the number they’ll seek.
“That gym will be so loud,” Elliott said. “We should be able to deal with the nerves a little bit more. We should be able to play at a high level, but obviously we want to go undefeated.”
Texas swept No. 23 Kansas earlier this season in Austin, the second two sets concluding at uncomfortably close scores of 25-22 and 26-24. While the latest rankings pin the Longhorns at No. 2, Kansas is sure to provide a challenge in the midst of a sweeping season.
Texas currently leads the Big 12 in hitting percentages and blocks and features a roster of talent that has only grown with each game. Outside hitter Haley Eckerman leads the Big 12 in kills and points and is 123 kills away from earning a spot on UT’s single-season top 10 list for kills. Meanwhile, sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Khat Bell is first in blocks, and junior outside hitter Bailey Webster ranks third in kills.
However, Kansas is not without assets of its own. Junior middle blocker Caroline Jarmoc tops the Big 12 in hitting percentage, while junior setter Erin McNorton is first in assists. Junior libero Brianne Riley currently sits at first in digs. Riley and Jarmoc, along with outside hitters Sara McClinton and Tiana Dockery, all received Big 12 player of the week honors this season.
The 21-5 Jayhawks are also fresh from a win against Kansas State.
The match will determine the top team in the Big 12 conference, which Elliott said means a high level of play and a lot at stake.
“We want to be tested at a high level and be challenged,” Elliott said. “Kansas will be able to do that, and they’re in a position right now that it is a must-win for them.“
Texas will face Kansas on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Longhorns going for record-breaking win