Changes to lineup aid Longhorns

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Junior utility player Sha’Dare McNeal stands near the net in a recent game at Gregory Gym. The Longhorns have improved considerably since McNeal’s insertion into the starting rotation and will try to continue their recent hot streak.

No. 9 Texas (14-4, 7-1 Big 12) has experienced a lot of lineup changes with the return of Sha’Dare McNeal. Although the transition would have been expected to be tough for the team, the Longhorns are better than ever and are looking to extend their six-game winning streak tonight against No. 14 Iowa State at Gregory Gym.

With the return of McNeal, Bailey Webster was moved to outside hitter and Khat Bell was moved to middle blocker.

These changes happened four games ago, and the team’s statistics in the time since are impressive.

“We’ve improved our hitting percentage by .134 points up to .372,” said head coach Jerritt Elliott. “The opponent’s hitting percentage has gone down .61. They are hitting .126.”

In addition, Bell is hitting .358, Rachael Adams is hitting .462 and McNeal is hitting .531.

“We’re pleased, and we’re seeing great results,” Elliott said.

He said the team needs to get more used to playing in these positions, but there has been an overall positive growth.

“It’s settling in and getting comfortable with our offense and how we’re working with one another,” Elliott said. “With Sha’Dare it gives us a lot of options to get one-on-one opportunities from all aspects of the net.”

Elliott has been very impressed with the growth of Bell and Webster. Webster, who has been playing on the left, is hitting .433 and is averaging a team high of 3.85 kills per set in the past four games.

“The main thing I was worried about coming into the middle was blocking, so I’ve been practicing that,” Bell said. She is averaging 1.38 blocks per set.

“It’s nice to see some of the balance we are getting, and the way that Khat Bell is able to continue to get better and better,” Elliott said. “Over the past four matches, our numbers are really, really impressive. But we are not near where we need to be.”