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Horns down Aggies in first renewal of Lone Star Rivalry

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TWC News: Horns down Aggies in first renewal of Lone Star Rivalry
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AUSTIN, Texas -- With 17 kills apiece, junior All-America outside hitter Bailey Webster and sophomore All-America outside hitter Haley Eckerman led the No. 3 Texas Longhorns to a four-set win (25-16, 19-25, 25-19, 25-18) against the Texas A&M Aggies on Friday night in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns advance to the NCAA Austin Regional next Friday and Saturday (Dec. 7-8) in Gregory Gym.

Webster, who finished with 32 kills in two NCAA Tournament matches, recorded three blocks tonight for Texas (25-4). Eckerman hit .342 for the Longhorns with four digs and two blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Khat Bell hit .421 on 11 kills with two digs and four blocks while junior setter Hannah Allison had 48 assists and nine digs as the Longhorns hit .389 for the match.

Texas has won 11 straight matches in Gregory Gym against Texas A&M, dating back to the 2001 season (head coach Jerritt Elliott’s first season at UT).

Tori Mellinger led Texas A&M (25-6) with 13 kills and a .393 performance. Alisia Kastmo added 11 kills and four digs as the Aggies hit .248 in the match.

Texas came out for set one swinging hard and with balance. Three Longhorns earned four or more kills in the set, including Webster, who had five in the set on seven attempts with no errors. The Aggies kept it close, however, narrowing Texas' lead to one. With the score at 11-10, the Horns tallied eight straight, including three in a row from Webster.

Momentum seemed to swing in the Aggies' favor early in the second when Texas A&M recorded four straight points for a 5-1 lead. Later, up 12-8, Texas A&M launched a 5-1 streak for a margin Texas would not overcome.

The third set was a back-and-forth battle that featured eight tied scores until Texas overtook Texas A&M, 15-14. Sparked by solid hitting, including five kills from Webster, the Horns took control and finished the set with a kill from Sha’Dare McNeal. Texas connected on 14 of 21 with three errors for a .524 team hitting percentage in the third.

Tied at seven in the fourth, Texas launched a 7-1 run for a 14-7 lead. Aided by seven kills from Eckerman as well as three straight points scored by Molly McCage, the Horns concluded the match with a kill from Allison.

Texas will face the winner of Florida/College of Charleston next Friday (Dec. 7) at 7 p.m. USC, which won its second-round match earlier tonight, will face the winner of Kansas/Wichita State in the other match on Friday at 5 p.m. The NCAA Austin Regional final will take place on Saturday (Dec. 8) at 8 p.m. Gametracker live stats will be available on TexasSports.com with live Twitter updates @TexasVolleyball.

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