Dec. 11, 2009


Photo Gallery  | Omaha Regional Sidebar: Nebraska Seeking Revenge

By John Fey
Special to

OMAHA, Neb. - It was a little too much Hooker Horns for Texas A&M in the opening match of the NCAA Division I volleyball regional tournament Friday night at Qwest Center Omaha as second-seeded Texas swept the Aggies.
Destinee Hooker recorded 23 kills as Texas improved to (27-1) and will play Nebraska, which beat Iowa State in the earlier semifinal, on Saturday for a chance to go to volleyball's final four at Tampa next weekend.
"I'm extremely pleased," Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said. "We've been fighters all year long. Overall, I'm very pleased with our performance."
Texas dominated the Aggies in hitting percentage, .402 to .231. Hooker's attack percentage alone was .465.
The Longhorns' hitting percentage was well above their .339 for the season, which ranks second-best in the nation.
The blowout left A&M coach Laurie Corbelli clearly down.
"We're somewhat disappointed how we finished our season," said Corbelli, A&M's winningest coach. We didn't quite get there tonight."
A&M ends 20-11 after having won six straight matches. Texas takes a nine-match winning streak into the Saturday-night final.
In the opening game, Texas broke from an 8-8 tie with a 6-0 run to take a 14-8 lead. The Aggies later responded with a 3-1 run to pull within 17-13.
The Longhorns cranked out a 4-1 spurt to extend their lead to 21-14. A&M got only as close as 22-18 before Texas closed out the game on a block and kill by Hooker, who finished with nine kills in that game alone.
The Longhorns attacked at .457 percent in game one to A&M's .216. Ashley Engle had nine of her six kills in that game.
A&M had trouble handling Texas on both sides of the floor, something that wasn't lost on the Aggies' coach.
"We weren't as sharp with our serve and passing," Corbelli said. "You have to block and defend them."
Speaking of blocking, Hooker wasn't all about kills. She had one solo block and four block assists.
"You don't want to kill the ball every time," Hooker said.
UT used a 7-0 spurt in game two to overcome a 2-1 deficit to go on top 8-2. Hooker slammed three kills during that stretch.
The Longhorns didn't totally rely on Hooker in that game. While Hooker had eight of her team's 18 kills, Julianne Faucett came up with four of her own.
"We were a little heavy with Destinee," Elliott said. "Our passing broke down a little."
A&M took a 4-3 lead early in game three but succumbed to a 6-0 rally by the Longhorns that included back-to-back aces by Jennifer Doris. Mary Batis stopped the bleeding temporarily with a kill, but Texas responded with two more points.
Two straight kills by Sarah Ammerman and a Texas error gave the Aggies hope by closing the gap to 11-9. But three straight kills by Hooker hiked UT's lead to 14-10.
Down 19-14, the Aggies tried one last rally with two kills by Ammerman and a Longhorn error to pull within 19-17, but Texas coasted home from there for the berth in the title game.
Ammerman finished with a team-high 16 kills for the Aggies but also had nine attack errors. A&M had 18 attack errors to the Longhorns' eight.
"I couldn't be more proud of this team after what we produced," Ammerman said. "This means a lot to me making it to the Sweet 16."
A&M hitter Jennifer Banse, who came up with 12 kills, said whoever hooks up with the Longhorns will have a challenge.
"That's a bunch of confident girls," Banse said. "I think they're a great team."