Texas comes back in third set to challenge Cougars
Thursday night definitely wasn’t the ideal match for the Longhorns, but some valuable lessons surely came out of each set. After going down 0-2 in the first two sets, the Longhorns fought back to win the third set but saw their comeback bid fall just short in the fourth set.
Texas didn’t quite look like it was ready to play in the first two sets, but the team regained its composure in the third set. A big part of their close comeback was a huge block by Texas middle blockers Khat Bell and Nicole Dalton in the third set, resulting in a Texas point. The block gave Texas a 19-18 lead which helped carry the Longhorns to victory in the set. While most of Texas’ points came from good plays, Minnesota helped them out after some miscommunication and poor serves, giving Texas some easy points.
A key part of the Longhorns’ comeback attempt was confidence. After the break following the second set, the Longhorns came out of the gate with energy and a mission. Blocks would be key for the Longhorns to keep pace with Minnesota, which they definitely accomplished.
Blocking makes the difference in 3-1 loss
Coming up with blocks in pivotal volleys was a vital part of this match between the Gophers and the Longhorns. Minnesota dominated this aspect of the game for the first two sets coming out with 7.5 blocks while Texas only tallied 4. The Gophers recorded a total of 13 assisted blocks but only five single blocks. Texas came on strong in the third set tallying five team blocks while their opponent only tallied another two. The six assisted blocks in the third set were a big part of Texas’ game.
For both teams, digs proved to be vital elements of their respective games. The Golden Gophers logged 67 during the four sets, which saved multiple points for them. While Texas only tallied 46 digs, they were just as important. On multiple occasions, Texas diggers saved losing a set for the Longhorns, keeping their hopes alive. Senior Sha’Dare McNeal, who started at libero, recorded 11 digs for her Texas team while freshman Nicole Dalton, finishing with 10 digs, also gave her team an advantage with her play. Head coach Jerritt Elliott knew his team’s strengths, but they just couldn’t capitalize.
Harms stumps the Longhorns with 24 kills
Both teams had their standout players for the night. For Minnesota, Senior Katherine Harms out of Albertville, Minn., led her team with 24 kills and 13 digs. While hitting .319 with two assists, she helped her team get the win. Head coach Elliott definitely knew she would be troubling going into the match.
“She is good and we knew that. I thought we did a better job in sets three and four, but then she got hot again in set four. She hurt us early and we knew we had to key in on her and be all over her,” Elliot said.
The Longhorns were led by junior opposite/outside hitter Bailey Webster. She tied her career best 17 kills and hit .368. Dalton also was a key player with a season high 21 assists, 10 digs, and one kill. The freshman definitely showed potential in loss.