Volleyball

Home sweet home? Texas' Elliott hoping for huge fan turnout for regional

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Posted December 5th, 2016

Texas volleyball coach Jerritt Elliott is willing to write you a doctor’s note, call your boss or do whatever’s necessary to guarantee a full house at 3 p.m. Friday against BYU.

The Longhorns haven’t lost an NCAA tournament home match since 2006. Elliott has a personal 32-2 postseason record at Gregory Gym.

For those who play hooky and come see volleyball’s version of the Sweet 16, Elliott promises you won’t be disappointed.

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“I compare our women’s volleyball team to the city of Austin,” Elliott said Monday. “Nobody ever comes to Austin and says that’s a terrible town. Nobody ever comes to our game and says that’s a boring event.”

Texas celebrates a point against SMU during the second-round of the NCAA tournament at Gregory Gym Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Texas celebrates a point against SMU during the second-round of the NCAA tournament at Gregory Gym Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

No. 4 Texas (24-4) faces No. 14 BYU (29-3) at 3 p.m. Friday. Then Creighton (28-6) plays No. 12 Michigan (24-10) at approximately 5:30 p.m. The winners meet at 7 p.m. Saturday with a Final Four berth at stake.

“I’m biased, but I think it’s a great women’s sport that brings a ton of passion and experience,” Elliott said. “We’re the one team in the fall right now that needs the support of Austin. We’ve got the opportunity to get back to a Final Four and compete. But how to explain it? I think you can only experience it by going.”

Elliott is looking for every advantage he can get against the Cougars. This is the same bunch that eliminated Texas in the national semifinals in 2014. Veronica Jones-Perry had 26 kills in three-set sweeps over Princeton and UNLV in the first two rounds.

Texas has won five straight and appears to be peaking at the right time. Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani had a career-high .929 hitting percentage with 13 kills against UT-Rio Grande Valley. Ebony Nwanebu had a team-high 15 kills in the win over SMU.

Also, the Longhorns recorded a .438 hitting percentage and held the Mustangs to a frustrating .144. Cat McCoy, Micaya White and Chloe Collins all had double-digit digs as the Horns dug out of an early 4-1 hole in the first set and ended the Mustangs’ season.

“We’ll see when we get to more physical teams, but I feel like we’re definitely taking off,” Elliott said. “Every facet of our game has become better, including our serving.”

If Elliott can just get more fans to come see all this, he’d be in heaven.

The NCAA went away from pre-determined postseason sites this season, allowing the top four seeds to host the first four rounds. Unfortunately, all four regional sites are in the Central time zone. That hasn’t worked to some teams’ advantage. For example, No. 1 Nebraska is hosting a regional in Lincoln, but must play No. 16 Penn State at 11 a.m. Friday.

Elliott would prefer the NCAA to schedule a day off between rounds. But for now, he’s focused on getting two wins on Friday and Saturday. Nothing more.

“I’ve got a good feeling about this group,” Elliott said. “We’ll see how it pans out, but I like how hard they work.”

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

Ticket information: NCAA volleyball tournament ticket prices range from $18-$30 for all three games. Single-game tickets range from $10-18. Youth tickets are $7 (single game) or $12 (all three games). For more information, call the Texas box office at 512-445-3333. Or purchase tickets at Texassports.com/tickets.

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