Although outside hitter Amber Roberson missed a mere two games, she came out of the gate playing like she missed none while displaying an urgency of someone who had missed 20.
The 6-foot-2 junior from San Antonio notched five kills in the first set on perfect hitting while adding three digs in the process. She finished the match with nine kills to go along with seven digs and two blocks before heading to the bench in the third set to cheer on her teammates.
Roberson, the team’s second-leading scorer, put her offensive arsenal on full display, including signature spikes from the backcourt and carefully placed top-spinning kills that nick the opponent’s back line. Head coach Jerritt Elliott said Roberson’s return allows the team to maintain an offensive balance.
“[Opponents] can’t stack up on the players, and in terms of blocking schemes, it’s difficult [for them],” Elliott said. “We’re also able to use her out of the backcourt. She has great speed and velocity and she [puts] a lot of stress on the opponent.”
Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Roberson’s return is senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette, who had shouldered much of the offensive burden in Roberson’s absence.
“She’s a great player and she did really well tonight, especially not having her for the last two matches,” Faucette said. “We just have a lot of weapons and that helps. Amber’s a weapon we can put out there and she can put up big numbers for us.”
In Roberson’s absence, senior outside hitter Lauren Dickson was asked to step in. Dickson played four years at the University of Virginia and came to Texas to pursue a masters in accounting from the McCombs School of Business. Because of an injury her sophomore year, the Westlake High School product was granted a medical redshirt and retained an extra year of eligibility.
Dickson’s back line defensive presence has been a big boon for the Longhorns through the last two games, as she has posted double digit digs in both matches. Dickson played as a serving specialist through most of Wednesday’s match, though playing extensively in the third set.
Elliott said Dickson’s role could change and said he was pleased with her ability to step up.
“Every day, any player’s role can change and that’s developed in the practice gym,” Elliott said. “She’s been playing really well and we’ve been utilizing her a little more and she’s been able to show us a little more during matches.”