Texas, the gigantic volleyball power from a volleyball-rich state and a university with lofty expectations in everything it does, finally walked away with the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship trophy, giving Head Coach Jerritt Elliott’s program its first title since 1988.
“It takes time and it takes the right situation to be able to happen,” said Elliott, the 12th-year Texas coach whose third-seeded Longhorns (29-4) swept fifth-seeded Oregon (30-5), 25-11, 26-24, 25-19. “I’m so proud of our program. To me, getting to the final four is one of the hardest things to do in sports, and to get there four out of five [years] says a lot about where our program is.”
Finally celebrating at season’s end after 24 years—before any of these championship team members were born—was pretty special for these Longhorns.
“This is the only thing that money can’t buy,” Elliott said. “It’s one of the things where you’ve got to work, you’ve got to communicate, you’ve got to learn how to build and believe in each other, you’ve got to deal with conflict.”
Khat Bell, the 6'1" hitter from Mesquite, Texas, had four kills, hit .273, and had a solo block to go with five block assists on a night when Texas owned the net. Texas lived up to its reputation as the best hitting team in the country: Big 12 Player of the Year Haley Eckerman, the 6'3" jumping jack from Waterloo, Iowa, had 12 kills in 25 attempts, with just two errors, hitting .400. Bailey Webster, the 6'3" junior from Baltimore, Md., continued her remarkable postseason run with 14 kills in 26 swings with only one error for a .500 percentage. She hit .458 overall in the postseason. Sha’Dare McNeal added eight kills, hit .471, and finished the postseason at .500.
Texas out-blocked the Ducks 15-1, completely neutralizing the AVCA Player of the Year, Oregon’s Alaina Bergsma. Bergsma had nine kills, but nine errors and hit .000. Her team hit .202. Sophomore Liz Brenner and senior Katherine Fischer led the Ducks with 13 kills each.
Here’s something else: McNeal was Texas’ only senior. You can bet somewhere back in Austin someone is already thinking about next year.
Originally published in February 2013