Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Horns headed to Final Four following sweep of USC

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AUSTIN, Texas -- Junior All-America outside hitter Bailey Webster led the No. 3 seeded Texas Longhorns with 17 kills in their 3-0 sweep of the No. 6 seeded USC Women of Troy Saturday evening at Gregory Gym (25-19, 25-22, 25-14). The victory marks Texas' first sweep in a regional final since 1988, the year UT won a national championship, and secures their eighth trip to the NCAA Final Four.

Webster, who was named NCAA Austin Regional most outstanding player, posted kills on 17 of 29 attempts with two errors for a .517 clip in tonight's match. In four postseason matches, Webster has 64 kills (4.92 kps) while hitting .519 with eight blocks.

Junior setter Hannah Allison recorded 45 assists, two kills, one service ace, six digs and three blocks for Texas (27-4) in tonight's match, while sophomore All-America outside hitter Haley Eckerman registered 11 kills, one block and one dig. Sophomore middle blocker Khat Bell tied her career high of three service aces, while also posting seven kills, four digs and three blocks.

USC (30-6) was led by Sara Shaw with 10 kills, three assists, 10 digs and one block, as well as Katie Fuller with 10 kills and seven digs.

Texas came out for set one with balance on the attack. Five Horns earned kills in the set and Webster, who connected on eight of ten swings with no errors, posted a .800 clip. Down 9-8, UT launched an 8-2 run, highlighted by four kills from Bell, as well as service aces from Bell and freshman libero Kat Brooks, to earn a five-point margin. The Trojans narrowed the margin to three with back-to-back points, but was never closer than that.

The second set would prove to be back-and-forth with 11 tied scores and five lead changes. A 5-1 run from the Horns, including two straight kills from Eckerman, put Texas up 18-15. The Trojans called a timeout and emerged with a 5-2 run of their own to tie the game at 20. The Longhorns put an end to the set with another kill from Eckerman, who earned a total of six kills in the set on 10 attempts for a hitting percentage of .600.

Behind 5-3 in the third set, UT recorded five straight, in a stretch that included kills from Webster, freshman middle blocker Molly McCage and Eckerman, as well as back-to-back double blocks by McCage/Eckerman and McCage/McNeal. Leading 13-10, the Horns recorded five unanswered points as the team would hit .480 to close out the sweep.

With this win, the Longhorns advance to next week's NCAA Final Four in Louisville, Ky. where they will meet the winner of Michigan vs. Stanford. The match will be broadcast on ESPN2, Gametracker live stats will be available on TexasSports.com and @TexasVolleyball will post live Twitter updates.

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