Texas' Amy Neal, and Chloe Collins, right, walk off the court following their early two game lead as Texas played host to Baylor in a Big 12 volleyball match at Gregory Gym on the UT campus Wednesday night November 18, 2015. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Volleyball

Longhorns sweep Baylor, move closer to Big 12 title

Posted November 18th, 2015

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Following two emotional road wins last week, Jerritt Elliott sensed a letdown coming for his Texas volleyball team.

So he rounded up his favorite motivational clips and showed them to his team prior to Wednesday’s match against Baylor. All season long, Elliott has been stressing the importance of not overlooking an opponent, and he was afraid his message was wearing thin.

This time, he let videos do the talking for him.

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“Sometimes you gotta change it up for them to give them some things to think about,” Elliott said.

Elliott said he doesn’t know if his tactic worked, but it certainly didn’t hurt the Longhorns, who notched a sweep, 25-20, 25-18, 25-21, to inch closer to a fifth straight Big 12 title.

Amy Neal recorded 13 kills and Paulina Prieto Cerame 10, and fifth-ranked Texas held the Bears to under .200 hitting in two sets.

“Good win,” Elliott said.

Saturday is senior day against Kansas State, and Elliott is urging a strong turnout to say fareewell to Neal, Molly McCage and Kat Brooks. A ceremony is scheduled for after the match to eliminate distractions for what figures to be a key afternoon in the conference race. Texas (13-1, 23-2) holds a one game edge over Kansas and also holds the tiebreakers with two wins over the Jayhawks. The regular season wraps up Nov. 28 at Oklahoma.

Last week’s road wins over Kansas and Iowa State left Elliott feeling worried about how his team would respond emotionally. They went five sets with Kansas, the nation’s No. 9 team, and didn’t return home from Iowa State until 2 a.m.

“My job is to make sure they’re prepared,” Elliott said. “As a coach, you have experience in it.”

With such little margin for error in the conference race, he didn’t take any chances and broke out the videos. There was never a hint of a letdown, as the Horns raced out to a 7-4 lead in the first set. Baylor fought back and evened it at 17-17 before Texas retook control with a Chiaka Ogbogu block sandwiched by two Baylor errors.

Texas hit .360 in the set compared to .167 for Baylor.

“We played well in spurts,” Elliott said. “I thought game one, our offensive numbers were good. We just made a few too many errors (four).”

The Horns hit .393 and .222 in games two and three, respectively.

Baylor (16-12, 4-10) received 14 kills from Andie Malloy and 10 from Katie Staiger.

Neal, who is getting buzz for Big 12 player of the year, said she is looking forward to Saturday’s sendoff. Of course, it won’t the final time she plays at Gregory Gymnasium, as Texas is hosting the first and second rounds and the regionals in the NCAA tournament.

“You can’t look at it like senior night,” Neal said. “You play for the seniors, but Kansas State is gonna be good and they’re very good at defense.”

Texas won the first meeting, sweeping the Wildcats on Oct. 21 in Manhattan.

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