Texas Downs Minnesota 3-0 to Advance to NCAA Championship


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TAMPA, Fla. - Senior Destinee Hooker notched 17 kills, and senior Ashley Engle added 10 kills and 25 assists to lead the second-seeded Longhorns (29-1) to a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-15) victory over 11th-seeded Minnesota (28-9) Thursday evening in the semifinals of the 2009 NCAA Volleyball Championships. 

The win puts Texas in its first NCAA title match since 1995, and UT will take on top-ranked Penn State to decide the national champion.  The NCAA championship match is slated for Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. Central with a live ESPN2 national telecast.  The Longhorns will be looking for their second NCAA championship and their first since 1988.     

Junior Juliann Faucette added 10 kills for the Longhorns, who hit .400 on the evening, while senior Heather Kisner added 21 digs, and sophomore Michelle Kocher dished out 16 assists.  Hailey Cowles paced Minnesota with 12 kills, and Taylor Carico totaled a match-high 30 assists in the loss.

The first half of the opening set went back-and-forth before Texas broke through to take control of the set.  Leading 15-14, UT took advantage of a Gopher net violation and collected two kills from Engle to take an 18-14 lead and force a Minnesota timeout.  The Gophers pulled within 18-16 before the Longhorns answered with kills from Rachael Adams and Hooker to take a 20-16 lead and force another Minnesota timeout.

Minnesota drew within 20-17 before Texas stretched its cushion out to 23-17.  A service error from the Golden Gophers' Christine Tan set up match point for the Horns at 24-19, and a Faucette kill put away the first set for Texas, 25-19.

Tied at 12 in set two, Minnesota took advantage of a pair of Texas errors to take a 14-12 lead.  UT evened the set at 15 before kills from the Gophers' Cowles and Ariana Filho gave UM a 17-15 lead.  Trailing 18-16, Texas took advantage of an errant Carico attack and added a kill from Faucette and a double block from Adams and Faucette to take a 19-18 lead and force a Gophers timeout.

Tied at 19 apiece, Texas took the next three points behind an Amber Roberson kill, an errant Minnesota attack and a Hooker kill to assume a 22-19 lead and force a Minnesota timeout.  The Golden Gophers would get no closer, and UT added consecutive kills from Hooker and Faucette to finish off the second set, 25-20.

Minnesota raced out to an 8-3 lead in set three, but Texas climbed back into contention and evened the set a 13-all with a Faucette kill.  Texas took over from there and completed an 8-0 run, highlighted by superior attacking and blocking from junior Jennifer Doris, before Minnesota ended the run to cut the Texas lead to 20-14. 

Leading 22-15, Texas picked up kills from Hooker and Roberson to set up match point, and a Minnesota attack went long on match point to give Texas the victory in the final set, 25-15. 


*Article courtesy of Texas athletics.

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