The Longhorns hit the road again in hopes that the road does not hit them back.
Eleventh-ranked Texas heads off to play Kansas State on Saturday in Manhattan, Kan., looking to solve its woes away from home.
The Longhorns had dropped their first three matches on the road before coming back against Missouri, only to fall to third-ranked Nebraska in Lincoln last Saturday. Head coach Jerritt Elliott said the team’s success treads on its ability to play consistently through the match.
“Each match we’ve been playing, we’ve been finding more consistency,” Elliott said. “When you’re on the road, you have to be consistent all the way through the match. We’re going to have to deal with the crowd, deal with the pressures and continue to work on our competitive mentality.”
Captain and senior outside hitter Juliann Faucette said the team will need to be able to bounce back when opponents string together several points in a row.
“I think it’s just not getting on our heels,” Faucette said. “The teams on the road are really good, and they’re going to put up some numbers and some runs against us and we just have to respond.”
After some early season struggles, the Longhorns have won four of their last five games, most recently a sweep of Colorado at home. Additionally, Texas has won the last 13 matches against the Wildcats.
The Longhorns’ offensive balance — one of the team’s primary focuses coming into the season — has taken a turn for the better. The team usually has five players in its rotation capable of posting at least five kills a game. The consistent play of the hard-hitting Faucette and the offensive emergence of middle blocker Rachael Adams have opened up the floor for the Longhorns.
“The balance is helping the team a lot,” said junior outside hitter Amber Roberson, who tied a career-high with 13 kills against the Buffaloes. “The middles are helping the right side get open and [other teams] have no choice but to single block us.”
Texas plays Oklahoma on Wednesday in Norman before coming back home against Texas Tech next Saturday. Elliott said he feels the team has improved from the beginning of the season and has been able to establish a rhythm.
“In the preseason we had some matches where we weren’t able to do anything,” Elliott said. “Now we’re starting to get consistency at a very high level and we just have to learn how to sustain that. The roller coaster is at least going up now.”