Dec. 10, 2010

AUSTIN, Texas -- Rachael Adams and Juliann Faucette led Texas with 19 kills apiece, and Michelle Kocher dished out 46 assists, as the ninth-seeded Longhorns (26-5) edged eighth-seeded Illinois (24-9) by a 3-2 (19-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-14, 15-11) margin Friday evening in the round of 16 at the 2010 NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship.

Texas advances to the NCAA quarterfinals for a fifth consecutive season and will take on 16th-seeded Purdue on Saturday with a berth in the NCAA semifinals up for grabs. Purdue earned its NCAA quarterfinal berth by upsetting top-seeded Florida, 3-0 in Friday's first NCAA round-of-16 match in Austin. Jazmine Orozco led the Illini with 21 kills, and Michelle Bartsch added 17 kills in the loss.

Before 3,731 at Gregory Gym, Texas asserted itself early in the decisive fifth set after prolonging the match by winning the fourth set. Kills from Kocher, Faucette and Adams opened up a 3-0 UT lead and forced an Illinois timeout. Leading 4-1, Texas took advantage of a Faucette kill, an errant Illinois attack and an Amber Roberson kill to go up 7-1 and force another Illini timeout. Illinois pulled within 7-3 before the two teams traded the next four points at 9-5. UT took an 11-5 lead behind a Roberson kill and an Illinois misfire. Faucette pounded a kill for a 12-6 UT lead, but Illinois cut the lead to 12-10 behind two kills and two blocks. v Faucette and Adams teamed up for a crucial block to put UT up 13-10, and Orozco responded for Illinois to cut the deficit to 13-11. But, Adams pounded her 18th and 19th kills on the next two points to close out the set for Texas, 15-11, and send the Longhorns to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Highlighted by a couple of kills from Adams, Texas jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the opening set before Illinois chipped away at the lead. Trailing 13-9, the Illini picked up a kill from Hillary Haen and three straight kills from Colleen Ward to even the set at 13. An errant Texas attack gave Illinois the lead, and the Illini took three of the next four points before UT's Adams answered with a kill at 17-15. Leading 21-17, Illinois collected another kill from Bartsch and added another point on a Texas attack error. The Horns took the next two points to pull within 23-19, but the Illini claimed the last two points to close out the first set, 25-19. Illinois out-hit Texas in set one, .333 to .188.

Texas significantly improved its efficiency in the second set, where it hit at a .421 clip. At three-all in the second set, Texas ran off three straight behind kills from Sha'Dare McNeal and Adams and a Faucette service ace. Leading 10-8, UT collected a kill from Faucette, an errant Illinois attack and a block from Adams to assume a 13-8 lead and force an Illinois timeout. UT assumed a 17-11 lead behind a Ward service error, but the Illini took the next three points and forced a Texas timeout with the Horns holding a 17-14 lead.

Texas and Illinois traded the next eight points with UT maintaining a 21-18 lead. The Illini responded with consecutive service aces from Haen before a McNeal kill staked the Horns to a 22-20 lead. Illinois responded once more with a block and a Ward service ace to even the set at 22. Texas' Roberson hammered a kill to put UT back on top before Bartsch answered for the Illini. A McNeal block presented a set point for Texas, but Orozco kept the Illini in the set with a kill. Texas, however, put away Illinois behind consecutive kills from Faucette and Jennifer Doris and took set two by a 26-24 margin.

Set three remained tight from the outset. Illinois opened up a 7-4 lead before UT cut it to 7-6 behind an errant Illini attack and a Doris kill. Illinois took a 14-11 lead but UT claimed three of the next four points to cut the deficit to 15-14. Leading 17-15, Illinois picked up a kill from Haen and an errant Texas attack to assume a 19-15 lead and force a Longhorns timeout.

A Jackie Wolfe service ace stretched the Illinois lead to 20-15 before Texas collected kills from Faucette and Lauren Dickson to pull within 20-17. The Illini took the next three points to force another Texas timeout. Adams chipped in another kill for the Horns, but Illinois closed out the set, 25-18, behind kills from Ward and Orozco.

Texas got off to a fast start in set four with two Faucette kills and a Hannah Allison service ace to take a 3-0 lead. Leading 3-1, McNeal notched a kill before she teamed up with Adams for a pair of blocks that stretched the Longhorns' cushion to 6-1 and forced an Illinois timeout. The Illini responded with a 6-2 run that cut the Texas lead to 8-7 and forced a UT timeout. Texas regrouped and took six of the next seven points in a crucial stretch that sent the momentum in the Longhorns' favor. A Doris kill preceded two straight service aces from Dickson, and Texas took three of the next four points with kills from Faucette, Doris and Adams, as the Horns took a 14-8 lead and forced another Illini timeout.

An Illinois service error gave Texas a 19-11 lead, and a Roberson kill and a Sarah Palmer service ace stretched the UT lead to 21-11. Illinois misfired on the next point before Palmer fired another ace to give Texas a 23-11 lead. A Roberson kill sealed the fourth set for Texas, 25-14. The Horns out-hit the Illini in set four, .444 to .188.