AUSTIN, Texas – Junior All-America outside hitter Bailey Webster led the No. 3-seeded Longhorns with 17 kills in their 3-0 sweep of No. 6-seeded USC on Saturday 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 its eighth trip to the NCAA semifinals.
Webster posted kills on 17-of-29 attempts with two errors for a .517 clip in the 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), 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.
Five Horns earned kills in the first set and Webster, who connected on 8-of-10 swings with no errors, posted an .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 proved to be back-and-forth with 11 tied scores and five lead changes. A 5-1 run from the Horns, including consecutive 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 in a row 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 hit .480 to close out the sweep.
With this win, the Longhorns advance to next week’s semifinals in Louisville, Ky.