Lincoln, Neb. - The top-seeded Texas volleyball team overcame a rare postseason deficit to advance to its eighth consecutive NCAA Regional Final with 3-1 victory over American on Friday in a Regional Semifinal match at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
With the win, Texas advanced to Saturday's NCAA Regional Final at 8 p.m. (Central) on ESPNU. Texas will play the winner of Friday's second semifinal between No. 8 Nebraska and No. 9 San Diego
In advancing to a regional final for the eighth straight year, Texas had to come from behind, something the Longhorns have only needed to do twice during their school-record nine-match postseason win streak. After American won the opening set 27-25, Texas cruised to an 11-point victory in set two (25-14) and a nine-point win in set three (25-16). The Longhorns then pulled away late for a 25-20 victory in set four.
Texas featured a balanced attack against the Patriot League champions, as four Longhorns produced double-digit kills. All-American Bailey Webster produced 18 kills, while Khat Bell totaled 16 kills and Haley Eckerman and Chiaka Ogbogu each added 11 kills. Bell's 16 kills were a season high while the freshman Ogbogu tied her season and career highs with 11 kills. Setter Hannah Allison recorded 54 assists while directing a Longhorn offense that hit .324 in the match, including above .350 in each of the final three sets. Texas also added 14.0 blocks, including seven from Bell. Sarah Palmer produced a season-high 25 digs from her libero position, as UT out-dug American, 77-63.
Texas (26-2) will take a 22-game win streak into the Longhorns' eighth consecutive NCAA Regional Final. UT's win streak is tied with Penn State, a 3-1 winner over Michigan State on Friday, for the nation's longest win streak.
American saw its 16-match winning streak snapped, as the Eagles ended the best season in school history with a 34-3 record. In advancing to the program's first NCAA Regional, American won the first two NCAA Tournament matches in school history, established the program's best winning percentage (.919) and tied for the most wins in school history.
Kristyna Lindovska paced American with 11 kills, while Juliana Crum and Kelly McCaddin added nine kills apiece. American hit .138 in the match and Monika Smidova produced a double-double with 36 assists and 13 digs. Crum added a team-high 20 digs to complement her nine kills.
Set one saw American lead for most of the set, before a back-and-forth finish won by the Eagles, 26-24. American won the first three rallies and led by six points at 13-7 before the Longhorns rallied. Texas trimmed the lead to one with five straight points, then used a 6-0 run to take its first lead of the set at 21-18. American answered by winning six of the next seven rallies to retake the lead at 24-22. Texas then fought off two straight set points before a service error and an attack error gave American the first-set victory. Juliana Crum produced five kills in the set for American, while Bell had six kills for Texas.
Texas was the team to jump out to an early advantage in set two, winning eight of the first 10 rallies to force an American timeout. The Eagles pulled within five points on three occasions, but could get no closer. Texas showed its strength with a 6-0 run that turned a five-point lead into a 21-10 advantage. The Longhorns then won the final three rallies of the set, earning a 25-14 win on a Hannah Allison ace. Texas hit .444 in the second set and produced 14 kills to American's seven. Webster produced six kills on eight error-free swings, while the Longhorns defense held the Eagles to a .000 hitting percentage.
Set three began with three consecutive American points before Texas used three straight points to tie the set at 4-4 and four consecutive points to take a 10-6 lead. The Longhorns did not let up after gaining the lead, pulling away with a 4-0 run to take a 20-11 lead. Texas stretched the lead to 10 before closing out a 25-16 victory on a double block from Webster and Molly McCage. The Longhorn offense continued to click in set three, producing 17 kills on a .361 attack percentage. Webster had five more kills in the set and added one block, as Texas stuffed American five times in the set.
Riding its momentum, Texas quickly jumped out to a 5-1 lead in set four. American would not go away, using a 7-2 run to pull within one at 13-12 and force a Longhorn timeout. Texas scored the first two points after the timeout and led by at least two the rest of the way. The Longhorns earned their first match point at 24-18 and closed out the five-point victory three rallies on Bell's 16th kill of the match. Texas hit .351 in the fourth set led by five kills each from Bell and Webster.
Texas Post-Match Notes
- With the win, Texas improved to 26-2 on the season. The Longhorns have won 22 straight matches, which ties Penn State (a 3-1 winner over Michigan State on Friday) for the nation's longest win streak.
- Texas has won nine consecutive NCAA Tournament matches dating back to last season's run to the national title. The nine straight postseason wins are a school record.
- The Longhorns improved to 74-27 all-time in 30 NCAA Tournament appearances, while advancing to an NCAA Regional Final for the eighth straight year and for the 19th time in school history. Texas has won eight straight NCAA Regional matches dating back to 2006.
- With the win, Texas tied Hawaii for the fifth-most wins in NCAA Tournament history (74).
- Texas improved to 20-0 this season when producing more kills than its opponent and 24-0 when totaling more blocks.
- The Longhorns also moved to 14-0 when hitting .300 or better.
- Texas lost the first set against American, marking the Longhorns' first opening-set loss in 13 matches.
- Khat Bell produced a season-high 16 kills, eclipsing her previous high of 13 against Kansas State. Bell was just one shy of tying her career high of 17 kills, set in 2011 against SMU.
- Chiaka Ogbogu matched her season and career high with 11 kills against American.
- Sarah Palmer produced a season-high 25 digs in the win, eclipsing her previous high of 24 against Nebraska earlier this season.
- Haley Eckerman, the 2013 Big 12 Player of the Year, recorded 11 kills to produce double-figure kills in her 11th straight match.
- Eckerman also added two aces in the match to give her 100 aces in her career.
- Hannah Allison totaled 54 assists tonight to move into fourth place on Texas' all-time list with 3,563 assists.
American Post-Match Notes
- American ended its season with a 34-3 record. The loss snapped the Eagles' 16-match win streak, which ranked as the nation's fourth-longest win streak.
- With a .919 winning percentage this season, American posted the best winning percentage in school history.
- American ended its season with 34 victories, tying the 1994 squad (34-8) for the most wins in school history. The Eagles are guaranteed to finish in at least a tie for second nationally in wins this season, one behind Missouri (35).
- The Eagles dropped to 2-13 in 13 all-time NCAA Tournament matches. American posted its first postseason victories in this year's tournament, advancing to an NCAA Regional for the first time in school history.
- American lost the second set of tonight's match, marking its first loss in 20 sets. Overall, the Eagles had lost only one set in their last 14 matches.
- Kelly McCaddin ended her junior season with a .406 hitting percentage, posting the second-best season mark in school history. Morgan Hendrix finished ninth on that chart with a .352 attack percentage in her senior year.
- Hendrix also averaged 1.09 blocks per set this season, establishing an American season record. She also set a record with 128 block assists, while totaling 149 total blocks this season, the second-highest total in school history.
- Megan Rosburg and Allison Cappellino combined for 14 digs against Texas. Both players ended the season with dig totals among the top-10 marks in American history. Rosburg produced the fourth-highest total with 447 digs in her junior season, while Cappellino ranked in a tie for sixth with 411 digs.