Mon, 25 Feb 2013 15:28:54 +0000
The NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee has selected Nebraska to host a regional site for the 2013 championship. Nebraska is the fourth and final regional host, joining the previously selected Southern California, Kentucky and Illinois.
The Huskers most recently hosted a regional in 2012 (in Omaha), as well as the national championship in 2006 and 2008 in Omaha. The 2013 regional competition will be played in the newly renovated Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb.
“Nebraska and the city of Lincoln create a wonderful experience for our student-athletes and fans,” said Diane Turnham, NCAA Women’s Volleyball Committee chair and associate athletic director/SWA at Middle Tennessee State. “Volleyball fans are drawn to this area and the committee has always felt Nebraska has an electric atmosphere with capacity crowds, which makes for a great volleyball environment.”
Tue, 08 Jan 2013 21:01:55 +0000
LEWISBURG, Pa. -- Bucknell director of athletics and recreation John Hardt announced Tuesday that Anna Allison will become the next head coach of the Bison volleyball program. Allison has spent the last eight years as the top assistant and recruiting coordinator for Bucknell and has mentored some of the program’s top setters during her tenure.
In 2006, Allison helped guide former Bucknell setter Shannon Pitsch to a school single-season record total in assists (1,199), which ranked first in the Patriot League. Pitsch, who was a 2008 All-Patriot League selection and a two-time Patriot League All-Tournament Team honoree, went on to claim the career record (3,597) under Allison’s tutelage, as well.
More recently, Allison guided Kat Tauscher and Meghan Wentzel to top-10 rankings in the Patriot League in assists during the 2012 campaign.
“I feel truly honored to have the opportunity to lead our women’s volleyball program,” Allison said. “Bucknell is a special place and has the highest regard for the scholar-athlete model.
“I am excited to have the chance to elevate our volleyball program to a perennial championship contender and to be able to provide a positive and enriching experience to our student-athletes. We will need to get back to the basics -- build a strong foundation, raise our volleyball IQ -- but I know that our women are ready to move forward,” Allison said.
“I am very pleased that Anna Allison will be remaining in the Bison Athletics family as the next head coach of the volleyball program,” Hardt said. “Anna [Allison] has been a vital member of the staff as an assistant coach for the past eight years, and I am delighted that she will now get the chance to lead the program. Her familiarity with Bucknell and our scholar-athlete tradition should make for a very smooth transition.”
A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and a member of a prominent volleyball family, Allison is a 2004 graduate of Oral Roberts, where she was one of the top setters in the Golden Eagles' history. Allison was a First Team All-Mid Continent Conference selection three times and was named Setter of the Year in 2000 and 2002. As a senior in 2002, she shattered the Oral Roberts career assists record as well as the Mid-Con career service aces record.
Oral Roberts won four consecutive league titles and played in four NCAA tournaments during her playing days.
A two-time team captain, Allison completed degrees in advertising and marketing communications as well. She completed her Master’s degree in education-athletic administration from Northcentral in December 2012.
A lifelong student of the sport, Allison's enthusiasm and commitment to the game was influenced by her father, Antonio Carlos Moreno, who played for the Brazilian national team for 16 years and participated in four Olympic Games. Anna's twin brother, Carlos, was an All-American setter who earned AVCA Player of the Year honors while leading BYU to the 2004 NCAA national championship.
In 2003-04, Allison served as a graduate assistant coach at Oral Roberts, where she worked closely with the Golden Eagles' setters and assisted in scouting and recruiting. Throughout her undergraduate career she coached the ORU Club team, featuring players aged 12 to 18, as well as the 16-18 Tulsa Volleyball Club.
In Brazil, Allison was a regular coach at the S.P. Volleyball Camp and has worked as director, recruiting manager and coach with the Moreno Corp. During the summers, she has served on the staff of the Gold Medal Square Camp as well as the Bentley College Camp.
Now the fourth head coach in program history, Allison takes over a team that went 9-20 overall and 3-11 in the Patriot League last season. The Bison advanced to the NCAA tournament in 1998 and earned a repeat trip in 2000. Allison takes over for Cindy Opalski, who stepped down in November after 23 seasons as head coach.
Sun, 16 Dec 2012 04:55:58 +0000
With the playing of “First Call” by the Church Hill Downs official bugler Steve Buttleman right before the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship match on Saturday, Texas junior outside hitter Bailey Webster exploded out of the gates and was off to the races.
Webster’s phenomenal play sparked the Longhorns to a 3-0 sweep of Oregon and their first NCAA title since 1988. She knocked down 14 kills, while hitting .500 against the Ducks, concluding a spectacular tournament in which she compiled 96 kills and a .458 hitting percentage over the course of six matches in the NCAA postseason.
Webster was voted the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, was in a completely different zone during the match and it showed from the very first moment. Webster knocked down the first kill of the match, and dominated the entire way.
In the first set, Webster posted five kills and a .714 hitting percentage en route the Longhorns’ convincing 25-11 win while matched up against AVCA National Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma. And, she played an integral part in the Longhorns shutting down Bergsma, holding her without a kill in the first set.
“The entire tournament she was phenomenal,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “She was hitting .519 [in the postseason] coming into the Michigan match. Michigan played unbelievable defense [in the semifinals]. Our set location wasn't quite as good as it was tonight. [Setter] Hannah [Allison] did a really nice job problem solving that … and Bailey worked the court.”
In the pivotal second set, Webster notched eight kills as the Longhorns battled from behind for the eventual 26-24 victory.
“We knew she was going to be -- obviously we knew she was going to be difficult to defend,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “She played great … she's a physical specimen.”
It was the second time Webster had played in the championship match. She was a freshman when the Longhorns lost in five sets to Penn State in 2009.
Webster missed the 2010 season with a knee injury when the Longhorns returned the NCAA semifinals and were ousted by the Nittany Lions again. Last year, Texas fell in the regional final to eventual NCAA champion UCLA. While it had been a few years since Webster was in a position to help Texas take the trophy back to Austin, nerves were not going to get in the way of this opportunity.
“During the match I was really calm,” Webster said. “’This is just a regular game. Yeah, let's play. We're having a good time.’ I just was calming myself down, because your anxiety can just mess you up because it's the national championship match.”
Clutching a piece of the championship net, and a section of the court at the postgame press conference, Webster was asked to reflect on her play in the match.
“I can't remember anything, because just at this point it's just surreal,” Webster said. “So I can't remember what happened in the game.”
What Webster did remember is the Longhorns’ total team effort as they claimed the ultimate prize in collegiate volleyball.
“I think honestly all I remember and all I know about this match is that I just felt like we did the whole thing together,” Webster said. “I feel like one game someone was on, the next game someone was on.”
Sun, 16 Dec 2012 04:03:59 +0000
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Texas waited a long time for this moment. This time, the Longhorns made sure they seized their opportunity to take home the ultimate prize, sweeping Oregon 3-0 (25-11, 26-24, 25-19) to claim the Division I Women’s Championship trophy at the KFC Yum! Center on Saturday.
The Longhorns, competing in their fourth semifinals in the last five years, finally broke through to capture the championship after some narrow misses. It is the Longhorns second NCAA title, and first since 1988. Texas also played in the 1995 and 2009 championship matches, losing to Nebraska and Penn State, respectively.
“We’ve been to this thing a lot of times and we’ve finally broken through because of what this program stood for,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I’ve always believed we’ve been doing it the right way but sometimes you have to get lucky.”
Texas (29-4) didn’t need too much luck against the Ducks in the title match. The Longhorns posted a .438 hitting percentage -- a championship match three-set record -- and out-blocked Oregon 15-1.
“They played awesome,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “They played very, very well. Blocked great, passed great, and they deserve [it] -- well earned victory for them.”
Texas junior outside hitter Bailey Webster set the tone for the Longhorns with the first kill of the match. She knocked down five kills in the first set en route to a .714 hitting percentage and a dominant Longhorns’ 25-11 victory.
Texas showed off its blocking ability, recording seven team blocks to Oregon’s zero in the first set, including five by freshman middle blocker Molly McCage. The Longhorns also out-hit the Ducks .400 to -.083, as Texas committed just one attack error to Oregon’s 12. Ducks' senior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma – the AVCA National Player of the Year -- did not register a kill in the first set, but did collect five errors in nine attempts.
“I've been in this situation where it's the first time to the finals or first time to the final four and you can get glossy eyed,” Elliott said. “When we put that kind of pressure on teams blocking-wise, young ladies can get dug all night long, but when they start getting blocked, it sends a different message and sends a little bit of panic.”
Bergsma re-established her presence in the second set with five kills, helping the Ducks claim a 17-13 advantage before a Texas timeout. The Longhorns came out of the huddle and scored four consecutive points to tie the score, prompting Oregon to take a break and regroup.
“This is where our team grew so much [this season],” Elliott said. “They learned how to take good quality swings, be patient and put a tremendous amount of pressure on teams and make them be great the entire night. We're okay with kind of keeping the ball in play sometimes, but making them be perfect. It becomes overwhelming with our block, digging the transition and it gives us a lot of opportunities to score and put pressure on teams.”
The two teams battled back-and-forth and Oregon held a 23-21 advantage before Texas sophomore outside hitter Haley Eckerman delivered an ace on a jump serve, giving the Longhorns back the momentum.
“She got one of those aces right there,” Moore said. “And that was just bad timing, because saying we need to scoot up, we need to scoot up and we weren't scooting up. That was a little frustrating.”
Webster finished off the Ducks in the second set, knocking down two kills to secure a 26-24 win heading into the break.
Texas did not relent in the third set. Oregon called a timeout at 14-9 and rallied to score three points, but Elliot brought his team together for another break to end the run. A double-block by Khat Bell and Hannah Allison sealed a 25-19 victory for Texas in the third set, and the confetti came pouring down on the Longhorns.
Webster was voted the Most Outstanding Player after leading the Longhorns with 14 kills, while hitting .500 with four block assists in the match. Eckerman added 12 kills and five digs and freshman middle blocker Molly McCage added eight block assists. Senior Sha-Dare McNeal notched eight kills and four block assists while hitting .471 in her final collegiate match.
“This team got into a zone and there was a lot of confidence,” Elliot said. “You could start seeing towards the end of the year. And we've got just great balance and great team play and we've got some amazing athletes.”
Texas won 23 of their last 24 matches after starting the season with a 6-3 mark.
“We had a rough stretch in the beginning of the year trying to figure out our lineups, but we always believed,” Elliott said. “The great thing about coaching is that if you have enough experience you can be patient because you know what you’re going to get in the end. This has been a long time coming.”
Oregon, playing in the championship match for the first time, finished its best season in program history with a 31-5 record.
“Obviously it didn't end the way we wanted it to,” Bergsma said. “But I think we proved a lot of people wrong on this, I mean, this adventure to the finals, breaking a lot of Oregon records. Hopefully we set the bar really high and the teams can just continue to build on our success.”
The crowd of 16,448 was the second-highest attendance for a championship match.
Sat, 15 Dec 2012 02:07:54 +0000
Get ready for a knock-down, drag-out battle on Saturday when Texas and Oregon clash in the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship match at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky., with the NCAA title on the line.
Texas will be seeking its first NCAA championship since claiming the trophy in 1988, and this group of Longhorns is looking to make a permanent mark in the record books after advancing to the semifinals four times in the last five years.
“This being my senior year, [winning a championship] would mean everything to me,” Texas senior Sha’Dare McNeal said. “Being here for the third time and not being able to finish it off with a title has been kind of devastating to me. Winning my senior year would be awesome.”
The Longhorns will be playing in their fourth NCAA title match in program history. They fell to Nebraska in 1995 and Penn State in 2009.
The Longhorns are hitting .379 in the postseason, well above their nation-leading season average of .322. Junior outside hitter Bailey Webster leads the Texas attack in the national tournament, posting a .451 hitting percentage along with 4.56 kills per set, but she knows she cannot win it alone.
“We need the whole team to win and the passing, defense and distribution amongst the hitters has helped everything out,” Webster said.
Texas setter Hannah Allison has plenty of weapons, and likes to spread out the Longhorns offense. Four players tallied double-digit kills in the Longhorns’ five-set win against Michigan in the semifinals.
“They’re going to be able to do things that many teams we have faced cannot do,” Oregon senior libero Haley Jacob said. “But they are human, on the other side, and they’re going to make mistakes and do the same things that others teams do. That works both sides.”
Oregon will counter with a fast offense and some weapons of its own, highlighted by AVCA National Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma and AVCA First Team All-America setter Lauren Plum. The Ducks lead the nation with 16.0 kills and 14.9 assists per set, along with a .296 hitting percentage.
“There are certain things that you can do and try to take some of [Bergsma’s] tendencies away, but it’s not like we’re going to shut her down,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We just have to control and play level and do a good job of controlling her, not that it means we need to have her hit in the negatives. We just need to keep her within check and do the things that we need to do to be successful and get our defense set up behind the block.”
“I think they just run a really quick offense so we just have to focus on that,” Texas junior libero Sarah Palmer said. “Obviously, Bergsma is a big part of their offense so we are going to key in on that. She’s basically one of the bigger players on the team so we’ll see where she’s at, get our blocks set up and play defense around the block.”
Oregon is playing for the national title for the first time in program history. While some may consider the Ducks the underdogs in the match, they have certainly proven they belong in the championship after defeating Nebraska in the regional semifinals and No. 1-seed Penn State in the semifinals to advance.
“I don’t consider us an underdog,” Jacob said. “We knew what we could do. There weren’t any questions in our mind so, no, I don’t think we’re the underdog.”
Texas and Oregon have not played each other since 1984, but the Longhorns lead the series 2-1.
Sat, 15 Dec 2012 00:26:42 +0000
It’s a good thing Oregon outside hitter Liz Brenner has quick feet, because she is constantly moving.
Brenner, a sophomore from Portland, Ore., is an integral part of the Ducks’ women’s volleyball team that will tangle with Texas for the NCAA Division I Championship on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. She has contributed 3.89 kills and 2.54 digs per set along with a .297 hitting percentage this season, and is coming off her eighth double-double of the season in which she knocked down 17 kills and collected 17 digs in the Ducks’ national semifinal victory against Penn State.
However, her talents are not limited to the volleyball court. Last year, Brenner became the first female Oregon athlete to letter in three sports since 1976, also playing basketball and softball for the Ducks.
While Oregon women’s volleyball head coach Jim Moore knew she was a versatile athlete, it was not exactly in his original plans for Brenner, who was the Oregon state player of the year in volleyball and basketball as a senior at Jesuit High School.
“We left it open for her that she would have the opportunity as time went on -- we didn’t think it would happen this quickly,” Moore said. “She needed to get better [at volleyball].”
But when women’s basketball head coach Paul Westhead asked Moore for a favor, he obliged.
“There was no intention of her playing anything else, but basketball had a lot of injuries and Paul came to me and asked if I was willing to let her play for one term,” Moore said. “So, I said okay even though it takes away from individual practices [for volleyball], but I was willing to do that.”
Brenner ended up playing in 21 games, starting eight, for the Ducks, and averaged 5.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. After the basketball team’s season ended in March, Brenner did not slow down. When the softball team lost its back-up catcher with an ACL tear, Brenner, a former Oregon high school all-state catcher, answered the call again as the Ducks advanced to the Women’s College World Series.
“It was hard because there were tons of hours, and she was tired,” Moore said. “But she didn’t miss anything with spring volleyball and was still doing the softball thing.”
When the volleyball season ends on Saturday, Brenner will take a just a week off, but admits having all that free time will be boring. The boredom won’t last long as Brenner’s basketball season will start with a bang. She will join the basketball team just in time to suit up for the Ducks when they face perennial power Connecticut on Dec. 31.
Once basketball season is over, Brenner will take another dreaded week off and then try out her talents with the Oregon track and field team. Brenner was an Oregon high school state champion in the shot put and a runner-up in the javelin.
“I think I’m better at track [than softball],” Brenner said. “My javelin throws in high school are better than all of Oregon’s throwers on the team right now, so I decided to see how far I could go with that.”
Brenner is grateful that Moore understands her passion to play a variety of sports.
“During the recruiting process, I talked to every coach at Oregon and let them know that I wanted to play volleyball, but I wanted to do other sports, too,” Brenner said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to play basketball because the seasons overlapped too much but I definitely wanted to try track or something. He was completely open to it from the beginning and I think that’s really special that he has been so flexible with me.”
And, Moore knows being able to transition from sport to sport also helps Brenner’s volleyball game.
“She’s such a good athlete, and has great hand-eye coordination that you get when you play a lot of sports,” Moore said. “A lot of kids who play volleyball right now look awkward doing (other sports) because they are just volleyball players and that’s all they ever have done. I think it’s great that people play multiple sports because it brings athleticism to our sport that we don’t have. She knows how to move in space better than most people.”
“I’m not the typical volleyball player who is super tall or super skinny, but I use what I have,” Brenner said. “I have athleticism and strength which a lot of people haven’t seen. I’m pretty tall, and I play all around, which a lot of people haven’t seen either. It surprises a lot of people that I can do what I can do.”
While she enjoys competing in different sports -- she was even an 11-time world champion in racquet ball starting at the age of five -- volleyball is undoubtedly Brenner’s favorite.
“I love how fast it is,” Brenner said. “It is in the only sport where there is action every single moment. There’s no down time. If you’re on the court and you take down time, you’re going to be on the bench in the next few seconds. It’s exciting and fast-paced which is why I like it so much.”
Fri, 14 Dec 2012 14:25:16 +0000
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Liz Brenner had 17 kills and 17 digs to help fifth-seeded Oregon sweep the final three sets and upset top-seeded Penn State on Thursday night in the NCAA women's volleyball semifinals.
The Ducks (30-4) won 21-25, 30-28, 25-22, 25-19 to advance to the title game Saturday night against third-seeded Texas, a five-set winner against unseeded Michigan.
Alaina Bergsma and Katherine Fischer each had 16 kills for the Ducks, who are appearing in their first national semifinal. Bergsma added 15 digs, Fischer 12 as Oregon was 63 percent on team attacks.
"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but I have no idea how we won that match because they are really good," Oregon coach Jim Moore said about the Nittany Lions.
Ariel Scott had 18 kills for Penn State (33-3).
Oregon beat Penn State for the second consecutive season. The Ducks won last season's opener against the Nittany Lions, ending their 94-match home winning streak.
This time, the Ducks ended the Nittany Lions' bid to win their fifth national title in six years.
Of course, Oregon had many of its owns strengths to speak of.
The Ducks entered the game leading the nation in team kills per set (15.97) and team assists (14.91). Most of that was due to Oregon's mix of quickness and improvisation that won all but two sets in the tournament.
Penn State nonetheless presented a huge challenge, having lost just one tournament set coming in. Size and movement had a lot to do with the Nittany Lions' domination this season, though it took some work to put away Oregon in the first set.
There were five lead changes and 14 ties in the opening frame, the last at 20-20 as the Nittany Lions got a point off an attack error. Penn State scored four in a row off Oregon mistakes and won it on a Katie Slay kill on an assist from Micha Hancock, an All-American setter.
Oregon controlled most of the second set, building a 20-10 lead as Penn State struggled on offense and defense. The Nittany Lions also played for a stretch without Hancock, who turned her left ankle after coming down on Fischer's foot.
But Penn State tied the set with a 14-4 run and traded the lead with Oregon before the Ducks finally won it on Brenner's kill.
Oregon led 19-16 in the third but Penn State rallied to tie the game at 19 and again at 21. A bad set from Penn State's Dominique Gonzalez gave Oregon the go-ahead point before Fischer added two kills for a 24-22 lead and the eventual set win.
Oregon's serve befuddled Penn State throughout but especially in the final two games, as the Nittany Lions struggled to set up opportunities and seemed out of place for many returns.
"I thought we had a few opportunities in the second game that we let slip away," Penn State coach Russ Rose said. "I just think we lost a lot of confidence and steam at that point."
Texas won the first semifinal 25-11, 21-25, 23-25, 25-12, 15-11.
Bailey Webster had 18 kills and Haley Eckerman added 16 for the Longhorns.
Texas (28-4) dominated the first and fourth sets and took a 4-0 lead in the final set before Michigan tied it at 8. After a timeout, the Longhorns won three straight points and held off the Wolverines.
"The fans got their money's worth. What a battle," Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said.
"I've been saying it, that we're good in the crunch. You never see them give up. Even though we give up games, you can just see that they stay in their routine and just battle."
Sarah Palmer had a career-high 31 digs for the Longhorns, 3-0 lifetime against the Wolverines.
Junior outside hitter Lexi Erwin had 26 kills and a career-high 87 attempts for unseeded Michigan (27-12), which was appearing in its first Final Four. Senior captain Claire McElheny added 15 kills and had a .419 hitting percentage.
Texas entered the semifinals having won 21 of 22 matches since a 6-3 start that included a loss to Penn State. That roll earned the Longhorns their fourth Final Four berth in the past five years with a bigger goal of closing the deal after blowing a 2-0 lead and losing to Penn State in the 2009 final.
The Longhorns wasted no time carrying out their strategy, using their size and power to dominate the first set.
Webster had six kills, Khat Bell four and Eckerman three as Texas mounted several runs and put the set out of reach with seven straight points for a 14-5 lead. A 5-2 run clinched the 25-11 win for the Longhorns, with Webster adding two kills while their defense deny the Wolverines at the net.
Unfazed, Michigan improved its attack and won the next two sets with several small scoring spurts that provided a cushion against Texas.
Texas quickly seized the momentum and ran away with the fourth set with left-side help from Webster. Her presence created matchup problems for Michigan and the Longhorns took advantage for a .455 attack percentage en route to a dominating 25-12 win.
Having found their rhythm, the Longhorns grabbed the early advantage in the fifth set and didn't flinch after the Wolverines tied the set.
Michigan's loss ended a resilient run to its first Final Four, one that included overcoming several losing streaks before turning things around late in the season. The Wolverines definitely had found their groove over the past month, beating conference rival Michigan State twice and upending Stanford in the Berkeley Regional final.
Fri, 14 Dec 2012 07:06:29 +0000
At Wednesday’s pre-tournament press conference, Oregon head coach Jim Moore said the road to the Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship goes through Penn State.
On Thursday night, Moore’s squad cleared that daunting hurdle with a 3-1 victory against the Nittany Lions in the NCAA semifinals at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
The win sends Oregon to the championship match for the first time in program history after the Ducks’ first appearance in the semifinals.
Moore knew his team had what it took to contend for a national championship in January.
“I knew we were good,” Moore said. “We were good last year, we just weren’t consistent. That was our emphasis this season … it was about being consistently good.”
Last year’s team had the makings of a champion, but underachieved, losing to Colorado State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“They weren’t very happy a year ago at this point in time,” Moore said. “And they made a change. And that’s why we’re here.”
Penn State posed a serious challenge for the Ducks, but they kept on fighting to fend off the Nittany Lions.
After dropping the first set 25-21 the Ducks held on for a thrilling 30-28 victory in the second set, and did not look back. Oregon won the third and fourth sets, continuing to get stronger as the match went on.
“We certainly didn’t play at the level we wanted to offensively, but a lot of that had to do with Penn State … but [the Oregon players] are tough,” Moore said.
“We were definitely in our flow,” sophomore outside hitter Liz Brenner said. “I think that threw them off … they weren’t used to have another team do that, which kind of rattled them and we took advantage of that. We kept pressing.”
Penn State posted 20 blocks in the match, and held the Ducks to a sub-par .170 hitting percentage, but Oregon did not relent.
“Our passing was there [Thursday],” Pac-12 Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma said. “We passed really well. We have a fast offense, and that is really hard for even the biggest blockers to catch up to because we’re going to the pins quick. It definitely helps to have so many weapons. I think that really stresses blockers … never knowing who is going to be killing it that night.”
Bergsma was one of three Oregon players with double-digit kills in the match. She knocked down 16 kills, including six in the fourth set.
“It makes my life so much easier when so many other people are putting the ball on the ground,” Bergsma said. “It really opened me up with Liz [Brenner] and Katherine [Fischer] hitting so well. I kind of struggled in the first couple of sets, but they started leaving me more opened which made it easier.”
“They were what we thought they were going to be,” Penn State head coach Russ Rose said. “They do a lot of things really well. They were the better team.”
Oregon’s high-flying offense leads the nation with 15.97 kills per set and 14.91 assists per set.
“Bergsma has a terrific arm and great range,” Rose said. “[Lauren] Plum is a terrific setter and a great leader and does a great deal for their team.”
The Ducks will play Texas for the national title on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. Oregon is looking to become the fifth different Pac-12 team to win a national championship since 2001. Stanford won titles in 2001 and 2004, USC took home back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003, Washington claimed the 2005 trophy and UCLA captured the title last year.
Fri, 14 Dec 2012 04:55:14 +0000
Hannah Allison set up key plays for Texas.
Texas junior setter Hannah Allison likes her options, and she should. There are really no bad choices when she is deciding who to set up for the next Longhorn kill.
Allison used all of those choices in the Texas offense on Thursday as the Longhorns advanced to the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship finale after a back-and-forth five-set victory against Michigan in the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
Four Texas players recorded double-digit kills led by junior outside hitter Bailey Webster with 18. Sophomore outside hitter Haley Eckerman notched 16 kills, while senior Sha’Dare McNeal contributed 13 and sophomore Khat Bell added 11.
Collectively, the Longhorns were efficient. The nation’s top-hitting team posted a .316 for the match against the Wolverines as they moved on to their first title match since 2009.
“I think it makes it difficult for teams to scout certain players and try to stop one person because you have a lot of weapons to use,” Allison said. “So it helps them balance each other. So not one person on a team has all the weight, not one person has to get all the kills. And I think that's the most important thing.”
Allison likes to spread the offense around, and dished out 53 assists to her teammates in the match.
“For me, I can be a little bit creative with who I set, what play calls I make because I have so many players who can put the ball away,” Allison said. “So that allows me to really spread that out and make us a little bit more unpredictable.”
In the first set, Texas dominated Michigan, hitting .469 by playing practically errorless ball en route to a 25-11 win against the Wolverines. Michigan made adjustments, and Texas combined for 10 errors over the next two sets as the Wolverines took a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Michigan’s momentum was palpable, but Texas did not panic. The Longhorns rallied for a 25-12 victory in the fourth set – once again behind efficient hitting (.455).
With the scored tied at eight in the fifth set, Texas came out of a timeout to score three points en route to securing a 15-11 win and a chance to play for the national championship.
“I'm just so proud of our group that we've been good all year. I've been saying that we've been good in the crunch,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “You never see them give up. Even though we give up games, you could see they just wanted to stay in this routine and battle.”
“You have to be patient,” Webster said. “And every ball, everything isn't going to be a kill. And although it would be nice if it was, but you know like every pass isn't perfect, every set isn't perfect, so for us to go swinging 100 percent on every swing I don't think would be very smart. I think we were just trying to eliminate errors. And although it took a long time, it came.”
The Longhorns leaned on experience they have gained over the course of the season to pull out the victory.
“I think the biggest thing is we've learned how to manage our errors and manage just how we play, and at the beginning we were up and down at points and different sets,” Eckerman said. “It was a battle. And once the season progressed, we were just calm and steady throughout the whole match. And we just learned how to manage a lot better.”
Michigan head coach Mark Rosen, whose Wolverines played a grueling Big Ten Conference schedule, was impressed by the Longhorns.
“They played great [Thursday],” Rosen said. “They did a great job, especially down the wire, the match, and certainly wish them the best of luck. They're the most athletic team we've seen. It doesn't mean they're the best team that's going to win it all. But as far as physical athleticism and size, they're as good as we've seen.”
Texas will be seeking the program’s first NCAA title since winning the trophy in 1988 on Saturday.
Fri, 14 Dec 2012 03:07:49 +0000
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Bailey Webster had 18 kills and Haley Eckerman added 16 as third-seeded Texas overcame a 2-1 deficit for a five-set victory against Michigan on Thursday in the women's volleyball semifinals.
The Longhorns won 25-11, 21-25, 23-25, 25-12, 15-11. They will play the winner of the second semifinal between top-seeded Penn State and fifth-seeded Oregon on Saturday.
Texas (28-4) dominated the first and fourth sets and took a 4-0 lead in the final set before Michigan tied it at eight. After a timeout, the Longhorns won three consecutive points and held off the Wolverines.
''The fans got their money's worth. What a battle,'' Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said.
''I've been saying it, that we're good in the crunch. You never see them give up. Even though we give up games, you can just see that they stay in their routine and just battle.''
Sarah Palmer had a career-high 31 digs for the Longhorns.
Junior outside hitter Lexi Erwin had 26 kills and a career-high 87 attempts for Michigan (27-12), which was appearing in its first semifinals. Senior captain Claire McElheny added 15 kills and had a .419 hitting percentage.
Texas entered the semifinals having won 21 of 22 matches since a 6-3 start that included a loss to Penn State. That roll earned the Longhorns their fourth semifinal berth in the past five years with a bigger goal of closing the deal after blowing a 2-0 lead and losing to Penn State in the 2009 final.
The Longhorns wasted no time carrying out their strategy, using their size and power to dominate the first set.
Webster had six kills, Khat Bell four and Eckerman three as Texas mounted several runs and put the set out of reach with seven consecutive points for a 14-5 lead. A 5-2 run clinched the 25-11 win for the Longhorns, with Webster adding two kills while their defense deny the Wolverines at the net.
''It could've gone a negative direction and I thought our team did a great job of pulling through and competing extremely well,'' Michigan coach Mark Rosen said, calling Texas the most athletic team his squad has faced this season.
Unfazed, Michigan improved its attack and won the next two sets with several small scoring spurts that provided a cushion against Texas. Erwin keyed the Wolverines' rebound with seven points including a kill in the back left corner that made it 22-20, following with a crosscourt kill for a three-point edge en route to a 25-21 win.
Erwin's third set was even better as she exploited a hole in Texas' middle for many of her nine kills. Her last one sealed the 25-23 win, a crosscourt hit that squashed the Longhorns' attempt to tie the set following a small rally.
''We kind of were like, they have a '3' before their name and we don't,'' Erwin said. ''We just kind of played loose.''
Texas quickly seized the momentum and ran away with the fourth set with left-side help from Webster. Her presence created matchup problems for Michigan and the Longhorns took advantage for a .455 attack percentage en route to a 25-12 win.
Having found their rhythm, the Longhorns grabbed the early advantage in the fifth set and didn't flinch after the Wolverines tied the set.
''Honestly, I just wanted the point really bad,'' Webster said. ''I don't know what it was, but sometimes momentum just takes you.''
Michigan's loss ended a resilient run to its first semifinal, one that included overcoming several losing streaks before turning things around late in the season.