Juliann Faucette

Highly prized recruit Khat Bell greets the media for the first time since arriving on campus this fall. The freshman hopes to fill the void left by Juliann Faucette, who graduated in May after leading the Longhorns to a third straight Final Four appearance.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

For the past three seasons, the Longhorns have reached at least the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, and all three times they have come up short. Two of those three defeats have come against Penn State, a team that is quickly becoming a rival to Texas. For freshman hitter Khat Bell, the gameplan this year is simple: Beat Penn State.

“I want to beat them,” Bell said. “Our goal this year is the national championship, and if that path goes through [Penn State], then that’s who I want to beat.”

Much of the reason Texas has found itself among the final four teams in recent years has been because of the play of hitter Juliann Faucette. Faucette started three years for the Longhorns, and at the end of her time at Texas, she had become a force to be reckoned with.

Having graduated last year, she now sits among the all-time greats that have played for head coach Jerritt Elliott and the Longhorns. As good as Faucette was for the Longhorns, there’s not much drop-off between her and Bell. Both players are natives of San Diego and were highly regarded coming out of high school.

Bell knows how important Faucette has been for the Longhorns, and she hopes to make a seamless transition into her role.

“They are definitely big shoes to fill,” Bell said. “I hope to start and help this team continue to do well.”

Bell checks in at 6 feet 1 inch and attended Mesquite High School outside of Dallas. She was ranked as the No. 2 recruit nationally — the same number Faucette was ranked when she came to Texas.

Bell, along with fellow freshmen Madelyn Hutson and Haley Eckerman make up another incredible recruiting class for coach Elliott. All three are ranked within the top 15 national recruits for the class of 2011.

“We have high expectations for this group,” Elliot said. “The three freshmen are pretty spectacular.”

Like many athletes that have come before her, Bell had to make a tough decision on where to attend college. She had been leaning heavily toward attending Oklahoma, but a visit to Norman put to rest any doubt on where she was going to play.

“I was a big fan of Oklahoma as a kid, mostly for the football,” she said. “But after I went up and visited the girls there, I felt more at home with the girls at Texas.”

Elliott has done an outstanding job of nabbing recruits from nearly every corner of the country. This year’s squad includes two Hawaiians, girls from Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Illinois and Maryland.

Hutson, a 6-feet-5-inch utility player from Brentwood, Tenn., described the entire program as having a “family environment.”

With team practices in the gym starting just a week ago, Bell has quickly established herself as a vocal leader on the team.

“I’m really loud,” she said. “I like to keep things exciting and yell all the time.”

A vocal leader is exactly what the Longhorns need entering this season. Bell provides a powerful replacement to Faucette and should bring the same intensity to the team. With her in the spotlight, the Longhorns should be more confident than ever before.

Printed on August 25, 2011 as: Freshman hoping to replace Faucette

With 2010 firmly in the rearview, it may be too early for the Longhorns to shake off their crushing exit from the Final Four, but one thing is for certain — Texas has plenty to look forward to in 2011.

Jerritt Elliott’s young team battled adversity during its run to the Final Four, and his talented squad returns seven players who often started for the Longhorns in 2010. Elliott will rely on middle blocker Rachael Adams and outside hitter Amber Roberson as the two roommates will return to lead the Longhorn team this fall.

Both Roberson and Adams will assume the leadership position left by the departing senior class, but the two juniors carefully watched this season’s seniors and are confident they can pick up where veterans Juliann Faucette and Jen Doris left off.

“Looking at them, you have to learn how to take control of a team at a certain time when there’s young players and they’re going to be looking up to you,” Roberson said. “You have to be the one to step up to that and be the one they can count on rather than you counting on them.”

Setter Michelle Kocher and libero Sydney Yogi will also be seniors in 2011 and will inherit a rather young but experienced team — one Elliott believes will find it’s way back to the Final Four once again.

“We’re going to keep getting back here and we’re close to cracking this,” Elliott said.

The Longhorns have been bounced from the Final Four in each of the past three years, coming within a point of the National Championship in 2009. This year’s group was quite younger than the one that made the semifinals in years past, which is something that excites Elliott looking ahead to next season.

“These younger kids have got a lot more matches in them with this NCAA tournament,” Elliott said. “They learned a lot from adversity and going through that. It’s something.”

Texas was hampered by injuries much of the season, with Yogi, sophomore outside hitter Bailey Webster and freshman outside hitter Ashley Bannister missing significant time. Their return will deepen an already loaded Longhorns’ bench, giving Elliott all the tools he needs to put together another run deep into the NCAA Tournament.

“Our program is very healthy, but again, that being said, we have new players and the culture will change dramatically each year doing that,” Elliott said. “We have to teach them, as a family, what it means to be a Texas Longhorn and represent this University, because there are standards and they all have to live by them in the same way.”

The incoming freshman class is one of the top-rated recruiting classes in the nation, and there has been a buzz brewing around the Longhorns for quite some time regarding their chances for a title in 2011. Look for Katherine Bell, Haley Eckerman and Madelyn Hutson — a trio of top-rated prospects — to contribute for the Longhorns from the get-go.

With a mix of talent young and old, a well-versed coaching staff and a recently impeccable track record, Texas could be the last team standing in 2011.

“They’re going to be very good next year, so I’m excited to watch them, and I’ll be one of those Longhorns texting Jerritt next year as they hopefully get back to the Final Four,” Faucette said. 

KANSAS CITY — With Texas losing its rematch to Penn State as well as seniors Juliann Faucette, Jennifer Doris and Lauren Dickson to graduation, with the former two being the winningest players in program history, Thursday's end to the season may feel unsatisfying to some fans.

Fortunately for the Longhorns, the future is filled with promise and potential.

Texas returns 12 members of this year’s Final Four team and welcomes three of the nation’s top recruits next fall. More importantly, the time off gives the slew of injured Longhorns time to heal and be ready for the 2011 season.

Outside hitter Amber Roberson, middle blocker Rachael Adams and setter Michelle Kocher will return for their senior years, with the trio having been to the Final Four every year in Austin. Freshmen setter Hannah Allison and libero Sarah Palmer both gained valuable experience on the big stage, not to mention sophomore utility player Sha’Dare McNeal, whose athleticism and development in the backcourt were crucial for the Longhorns.

Texas will also welcome back junior libero Sydeny Yogi, sophomore outside hitter Bailey Webster, freshman outside hitter Ashley Bannister and sophomore defensive specialist Cristina Arenas from injuries.

With the addition of incoming freshmen Haley Eckerman, Katherine Bell and Madelyn Hutson, head coach Jerritt Elliott will have plenty of depth — not to mention difficult coaching decisions.

Elliott implied Texas might opt for a 6-2 rotation next season, which was what the Longhorns used in their run to the 2009 national championship game. The 6-2 utilizes two setters and six hitters, while typically rotating out the backline with the libero and defensive specialists.

However, Texas will have to replace the leadership of Faucette and Doris. Faucette earned All-American honors in three of her years, including first-team this year, leaves with the fifth-most kills in program history. Doris finished in the top 15 in all-time block assists and total blocks, while garnering Big 12 Academic honors every year.

“Looking at them, you learn how to take control of a team at a certain time,” Roberson said. “There will be young players and they’ll be looking up to you, and you have to be ready to step to that.”

Considering Texas’ 5-4 start to the season, many doubted the ninth-seeded Longhorns could even make it this far.

“I’m proud of our team for getting to this point and they’re going to be very good next year so I’m excited to watch them,” Doris said. “I’ll be one of the Longhorns texting Jerritt 'good luck' as they hopefully get back to the Final Four.”

Despite the returning players, there is a lot of work to do.

“Every year it’s going back and rewriting the book, but every year, my management skills are less and less because of the quality of women they’ve been able to establish over the years,” Elliott said. “We’re going to get back here and we’re getting close to cracking this. We just need to keep getting back and keep getting the opportunities to do that."

"But again, with that being said, we have big players and the culture will change dramatically," he added, "and we have to teach them as a family what it means to be a Texas Longhorn and to represent this University."

What a difference a year makes.

Texas finds itself in a new role in this year’s edition of the Final Four — the underdog.

It’s hard to believe that a team that’s won 19 straight matches would be considered as such, but don’t tell that to junior middle blocker Rachael Adams and the rest of the Longhorns.

“This team has come a long way and we may be the hottest team coming in, but we still see ourselves as the underdogs,” Adams said. “We still have a lot to show and a lot to give.”

But while the Longhorns are still adjusting to their new position, one thing remains the same — the road to the championship goes through Penn State.

Texas will face familiar foe Penn State in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament Thursday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., looking to avenge last year’s heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Nittany Lions — a game in which Texas was within a few points of a national title.

But Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott hasn’t lost any sleep over the loss and is preparing his team for another opportunity to beat the best in the business while hoping it’s his squad that receives some lucky bounces this time around.

“When you’re playing those caliber teams, you need a couple breaks, one touch here or something happens there,” Elliott said. “I felt like, when I watched the film over and over again to see what I would have done differently, there weren‘t any changes I would have made. I felt good with the way we started in our rotations and what we did. You have to make plays. We had some opportunities and didn’t take advantage of them. I have no regrets.”

Elliott coached the Longhorns to the Final Four each of the past two seasons but hasn’t gotten Texas over the hump just yet. But he and the Longhorns know they’ve gained valuable experience in those defeats and are ready for a new outcome in 2010.

“Even though it hurts and you want the players to win and experience what that’s like you can always walk off as a coach when they gave you everything they had,” Elliott said. “I had a team that did that both years. We have another shot this year and hopefully those experiences pay off in end.”

Senior outside hitter and newly named All-American Juliann Faucette echoed her coach’s comments.

“We have some experienced players that were in two final fours and, losing both those games the last two years were hard, but we’ve always learned something from that,” Faucette said.

Elliott is downplaying the idea that this game is a rally cry for his team, saying it’s just another opportunity to showcase Texas’ talent to the country. But the coach seems to be getting used to facing the Nittany Lions on the sport’s biggest stage, and doesn’t see either team taking a step back in years to come.

“When you look at Penn State’s program and where our program is at and the future recruits that are coming in and the players that we have, this could be a battle that continues for the next couple of years in the Final Four,” Elliott said.

And while these two teams could face off again next season, it’s the last chance for senior middle blocker Jen Doris to beat Penn State. The Houston native isn’t going to hold anything back Thursday night in what could be her final match in a Texas uniform.

“We’re just going to go out and keep doing the same things we have done all year, stick to our routines and things that have made us so successful to this point,” Doris said. “Hopefully, in the end, it’s enough to get us past. If not, we’re going to know that we gave everything that we had, so we can hang our heads high.”

It’s a new team, a new season, a new role and a new opportunity for the Longhorns to finally reach their championship aspirations.

All Texas can do now is play for a new outcome.

Almost a year to the day, Texas will get its shot at Penn State again.

The Longhorns fought through a tough weekend to advance to its third straight Final Four, taking down eighth-seeded Illinois 19-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-14, 15-11 on Friday and 16th-seeded Purdue 18-25, 25-16, 25-15, 27-25 on Saturday at Gregory Gym.

Texas now heads to Kansas City, Mo. on Thursday with a rematch against the fourth-seeded Nittany Lions, who overtook the Longhorns in five sets in last year’s national championship match. The following match on the other side of the bracket will pit sixth-seeded USC, who upset Stanford 3-2 in the Elite Eight, and Cal, who swept Washington to advance.

The Longhorns landed four players on the NCAA Austin Regional All-Tournament Team including junior middle blocker Rachael Adams, senior middle blocker Jennifer Doris and junior setter Michelle Kocher. Senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

Friday’s match against Illinois started off the wrong way for Texas, as it dropped the first set and was largely outplayed in the first three sets. The Fighting Illini were the only team to beat the Longhorns at Gregory Gym this season, sweeping Texas on Sept. 3.

As it did earlier this season, Illinois used its serving to exploit Texas’ ball control and keep the Longhorns out of system. Texas was able to storm back in the fourth and fifth sets sparked by two service aces from senior outside hitter Lauren Dickson and a hustle play by junior outside hitter Amber Roberson that led to a replay. Faucette and Adams both finished the match with 19 kills.

“Anytime you’re in a five-gamer, it’s exciting, especially on our home court,” Faucette said. “Our fans were loud and helped us out a lot. Our team thrives of those momentum swings, thrives off those defensive plays, so when we can create those moments, that’s when we were able to push back.”

Saturday’s match against Purdue started off just as poorly for Texas. The Boilermakers upset top-seeded Florida the night before and held the Longhorns to .269 hitting in the first set.

Texas dominated the next two sets and climbed back from a 15-20 hole in the fourth set, holding off three Purdue match points before taking the match.

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring effort of the tournament was from Purdue senior setter and captain Jaclyn Hart. Hart got injured at the end of the first set, and the Boilermakers were not able to rebound until the fourth game. She spent the rest of the match on the bench with an ice pack, giving tips to freshman setter Rachel Davis during timeouts. Hart’s story, however, goes well beyond the match itself.

Hart’s father, William, was diagnosed with cancer about six weeks ago. She spent one or two days at practice per week, then would hurry on home to be with her father. With the diagnosis kept mostly within the team, Purdue stormed into the tournament winning nine of its last 12 matches. After Purdue’s improbable win against Florida — and less than 24 hours before the match with Texas — Hart received a call at midnight informing her that her father had died.

“I have never seen an individual handle that type of a family situation better in my entire life,” Purdue head coach Dave Shondell said. “[William] watched her play tonight. He was so proud of her. Her story is bigger than her injury tonight. She has persevered this season better than anyone I've ever known. She became my hero this season.”

Home court advantage proved to be a big boon for the Longhorns through the tournament. After a dismal showing by fans in the first two rounds, both Friday and Saturday boasted near-sell outs.

“I looked up to the crowd today, and it was the first time I felt like we had a complete program with back to back near sell outs,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “The support from the community has been tremendous. I just want to make sure I thank the city of Austin and Longhorn fans for being a part of this program.”

Though Thursday’s match against Penn State will have a tinge of vengeance attached to it, the two teams are very different from last year, yet very similar to each other. Shondell said the two teams may be the most athletic in the country, yet error prone due to the youth. Both teams lost All-Americans from last year’s squad including Destinee Hooker and Ashley Engle from Texas and Megan Hodge and Alisha Glass from Penn State, but returned some in Faucette and Blair Brown from Penn State. They both lost major first-year returners in Bailey Webster at Texas and Darcy Dorton at Penn State to ACL injuries right before the season. And both teams have lost the same number of matches.

Texas is 6-9 all-time against Penn State, though haven’t beaten the Nittany Lions since 1989.

It’s not always pretty, but the Longhorns keep rolling.

Ninth-seeded Texas swept UTSA in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Championships 25-11, 25-18, 25-15 on Friday before holding off a feisty UCLA squad 25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 26-24 on Saturday at Gregory Gym.

The latter win was the 17th in a row for the Longhorns, and propelled them into the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth-straight year. Texas will get a rematch against eighth-seeded Illinois on Friday at Gregory Gym, hoping to avenge a 3-0 home drubbing in early September. If the Longhorns advance, they will play the winner between Purdue and top-ranked Florida on Saturday.

Texas came out strong against its sister school from down Interstate Highway 35 in its tournament opener. The Longhorns’ speed and strength overwhelmed the Road Runners in the first set, who were winners of the Southland Conference Tournament. Junior middle blocker Rachael Adams paced the Longhorns with 12 kills on .588 hitting and six blocks assisted.

“I think coming out strong, getting those jitters out, starting the NCAA tournament off right is really good for us,” said senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette, who finished the night with 11 kills and five digs. “We’ve had a long week of practice having to wait for this moment.”

The match was a homecoming of sorts for UTSA head coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff, who is coaching in her first NCAA Tournament. The former Longhorn outside hitter came to the 40 Acres in 1982, the year the team joined the NCAA. She teamed up with her older sister, Sharon, to produce a formidable Longhorn frontline that finished in the top 10 in three of her four years. Neugebauer-Groff served as the team captain in 1985, and still holds records in career kills (ninth), solo blocks (fifth) and service aces (eighth).

“It was just surreal. I walked around and still recognized some people that were here when I played,” Neugebauer-Groff said. “Some of my former teammates were here too, which was very special for me. The atmosphere here is great. It’s such a wonderful place to play. I was so excited for my team just to come here to play and experience that.”

Texas’ matchup against UCLA proved to be far more arduous. The Bruins, who, despite being ranked ninth by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, were unseeded in the tournament. The Longhorns clawed out the first set before losing set two and falling behind 5-0 to start the third set.

Head coach Jerritt Elliott inserted freshman setter Hannah Allison in the match, which quickly sparked a Longhorn turnaround. With the exception of a few serves the night before against UTSA, Allison had not played in a match since getting injured in mid-October. Allison’s height allowed Texas to matchup better against the smaller UCLA, as the Longhorns strung together two six-point runs in the third set, before holding off the Bruins in a tight fourth set that featured five lead changes and 11 ties.

Elliott said putting in Allison was gutsy but paid off.

“I just felt like we got flat and I felt like she could give us a spark,” Elliott said. “We were struggling early [and] we finally got some match-ups that we wanted. We had confidence in her, and she did a
fantastic job.”

Faucette, who led the team with 17 kills in the match, said advancing in the tournament is less of a relief and more of an excitement.

“You want to play together more, and personally as a senior, I don’t want it to end unless it has to,” Faucette said. “We have a lot of hard teams ahead of us to get to where we want to be, but that’s what makes it so much sweeter every time we advance.”

Adams said the convergence of final exams and the NCAA Regionals just means the team will have to balance things like they always have.

“Our staff is really great at preparing us and getting us organized,” Adams said. “We’ve been through this before, we know how to handle it and we’re going to be really focused.” 

While the expectations for Texas heading into the NCAA tournament are lower than in previous years, the Longhorns will be heavy favorites tonight when they face UTSA in the first round.

It’s the quintessential David vs. Goliath storyline, with big bad Texas taking on its little sibling from San Antonio.

But the No. 6 Longhorns aren’t looking past the underdog Roadrunners. Head coach Jerritt Elliott has downplayed talk of a possible rematch with No. 14 Illinois — a team that swept Texas in Austin back in September — in the Sweet 16.

“We have to take care of UTSA in the first round, they’re a good opponent. But we need to get our rhythm going and play well,” Elliott said. “That’s our focus point now. We have to ensure we are one of the teams that gets to the regional next weekend.”

But the Longhorns (23-5; 18-2 Big 12) still have Juliann Faucette, the Big 12 Player of the Year, on their side and the senior outside hitter has picked up her performance leading up to the Big Dance.

“Juliann has played really well the last two months,” Elliott said. “She’s found a great rhythm, her confidence is the highest it’s ever been since she’s been with this program and she’s carrying a big load for us.”

The award is the culmination of four long years of hard work by Faucette, something that has not gone unnoticed by her teammates. As junior setter Michelle Kocher puts it, the team feeds off her dedication.

“It’s what she deserves, she’s one of the hardest working players,” Kocher said. “She’ll come in early and even despite all the accolades she gets, you wouldn’t know that by the way she practices every day. She deserves it.”

And with two players on the All-Big 12 first team — Faucette and junior middle blocker Rachael Adams — the Longhorns have big-time talent and are poised to make some noise in the tournament.

“We’re one of the teams that can contend for the Final Four,” Elliott said. “It’s going to be tough from the second round on.”

But before Texas makes any travel plans for the finals in Kansas City, they have to avoid a major letdown against the 22-11 Roadrunners.

“Our program has done really well in the past of just taking things one game at a time,” Kocher said.

The road to the Final Four goes through Austin, and it’s up to the Longhorns to protect the home court advantage one set at a time.  

Jerritt Elliott’s resilient bunch is the hottest team on campus. They have the best record of any Texas team sport over the past four years and enter the NCAA tournament this Friday with the ninth overall seed having won 15 straight.

This season, Elliott avoided the national championship game hangover that plagued the football program in 2010. After coming within one point of winning the 2009 NCAA tournament, the Texas volleyball team rebounded nicely this year and Elliott’s squad has transformed itself into a more balanced unit. Unlike head football coach Mack Brown, Elliott and his staff have been able to adjust their game plan to a new-look team.

When the Longhorns take the court at Gregory Gymnasium in the first round of the NCAA tournament, against in-state opponent UTSA, they will do so having not lost in just over two months, with the team’s last defeat on Oct. 2 on the road against Nebraska in a hostile environment.

But after falling to the rival Cornhuskers, the Longhorns regrouped and ran off an impressive stretch of games, including eight sweeps and avoiding the decisive fifth set in each contest.

No. 6 Texas made its presence felt in the Big 12’s season awards, which were announced on Monday. Senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, becoming the second Longhorn in as many years to win the honor. Elliott shared Coach of the Year honors with Nebraska’s John Cook, his third career selection and first since 2007.

“I’m just really honored, I was really shocked when I found out,” Faucette said.

Faucette also earned All-Big 12 first team honors for the fourth straight year, showing why she is the most dominant Texas athlete on the 40 Acres. Junior middle blocker Rachael Adams joined Faucette on the first team — both were unanimous selections — and senior middle blocker Jennifer Doris and junior outside hitter Amber Roberson received honorable mentions.

As the tournament gets underway, there’s still a bad taste in the mouth of the Longhorns, who were on the brink of a championship last year when they suffered a heartbreaking loss to Penn State.

“I still have that in the back of my mind,” Faucette said. “We still feel like we have some unfinished business and it’s going to be tough road, tougher than we’ve ever had since I’ve been here. But it will be fun.”

With the No. 3 seed in the tournament’s Austin Regional, the Longhorns have a legitimate chance to avenge a pair of early season losses that came against Illinois and Florida.

Texas will face the Regional’s second-seeded Illini should the two schools meet in the Sweet 16. Both programs should have no problem advancing to the third round, and a matchup would give the Longhorns another shot at an Illinois team that swept Texas at Gregory Gym on Sept. 3.

It’s an opportunity that is definitely on the mind of junior setter and Illinois native, Michelle Kocher.

“We welcome them back to Austin with open arms,” Kocher said, smirking. “Seeing all the teams in our bracket it’s an exciting opportunity because we’ve played them before.”

But while Illinois and No. 1 tournament seed Florida may be on the horizon, the Longhorns know how important it is to take their first round opponent seriously.

“You never know what’s going to happen in this tournament,” Faucette said. “We have to take [UTSA] very seriously, they obviously made the tournament for a reason.”

Take an underdog seriously? That’s something the football program should consider.
Thankfully for Texas fans, Elliott isn’t about to let his team’s magical season crumble away at the hands of an overmatched opponent. 

Texas heads into the final week of the regular season riding a season-high 13-match winning streak after defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 3-1 Friday night at Gregory Gymnasium.

Senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette continued her latest string of impressive play, pacing the Longhorns with 26 kills — the fourth time in the last five games she’s eclipsed 24 kills — and added 15 digs for her second-consecutive double-double.

Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott recognizes that it’s the perfect time of the season for his best player to find her rhythm.

“With the way she’s been playing lately, she would be a Player of the Year candidate,” Elliott said. “Her early numbers probably won’t be good enough, but that is world class swinging, averaging over six kills a game, hitting over .400.“

“That is big time production,” Elliott said. “She is scoring more than 25 percent of our points, so that is amazing production.”

The No. 8 Longhorns (21-5; 16-2) needed a spark from junior outside hitter Amber Roberson in the decisive fourth set to propel them to yet another victory.

Roberson came off the bench and made an immediate impact for Texas, racking up five kills on just nine swings to lead UT to the win.

Texas returns to action Wednesday against rival Texas A&M before heading to Ames, Iowa to try to avenge its only regular season loss from a year ago.

If the Longhorns are any indication, then winning certainly is contagious.

Texas rolled to its 12th-straight victory Wednesday night, sweeping the visiting Missouri Tigers.
The No. 8 Longhorns breezed through the match as senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette continued her dominant play of late, by far her best stretch of the season, as she carried Texas (20-5; 15-2 Big 12) with 16 kills. The All-American also added 10 digs for her 19th career double-double.

“Tonight we were playing some of the best ‘system volleyball’ that we’ve played all year,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “Overall, the performance and fight of the team continues to grow and I like where we are headed.”

The Longhorns used a balanced attack to down the Tigers (19-9; 11-7) for the second time this year. Texas has defeated Missouri in nine-straight meetings.

Junior middle blocker Rachael Adams and outside hitter Amber Roberson rounded out the Longhorns’ attack with 11 and nine kills, respectively.

Adams was devastatingly effective with a .714 attack percentage and looked like she was finding a consistent rhythm with junior setter Michelle Kocher — something the two have been building game-by-game.

“We’ve been working all this week on her tempo and me consistently driving so it makes it easier for her to find me and give me a great ball,” Adams said.

It was only fitting that Faucette, who had at least 24 kills in each of her last three matches and was the conference player of the week, ended the night on a blistering strike that glanced off a Tiger and into the stands for the game’s final point.

Texas came out of the locker room for the third set but was a step slow as the Tigers leapt out to a quick 10-6 advantage. But the Longhorns answered as they have all year, and put together a balanced 5-0 run to pull back in front for good.

After a sluggish start, the Longhorns flipped the switch in the first set and steadily pulled away from the Tigers. With the set knotted at five, Texas reeled off eight straight points as Faucette and Roberson led the way, finishing the set with five kills apiece.

The Tigers hung tight in the second set, keeping within a few points of the Longhorns from start to finish before Doris and Faucette had back-to-back kills to end the frame. Adams added four kills and teamed with Doris to set up shop in the middle of the net — combining for three blocks. Faucette continued her top-notch play, racking up another six kills in the set.

But the Longhorns won’t have long to rest on this one as they take the court again Friday at 6:30 p.m. when the Kansas Jayhawks make their annual visit to Austin.

It may be a quirky schedule, but it’s one Texas will have to get used to come tournament time in two weeks.

“It kind of mirrors the NCAA Tournament and that’s what we are preparing for as conference [play] ends,” Faucette said.