AUSTIN, Texas -- Junior All-America outside hitter Bailey Webster led the No. 3 seeded Texas Longhorns with 15 kills in their 3-0 sweep Friday of the No. 14 seed Florida Gators (25-22, 26-24, 25-17) in the NCAA Austin Regional semifinal. With this win in front of 3,839 fans at Gregory Gym, the Longhorns (26-4) log their seventh-straight regional semifinal victory and advance to the regional final tomorrow night against USC.
Webster connected on 15 of 29 swings with three errors for a .414 clip in this match. She also added three digs and two blocks. In three postseason matches, Webster leads the Longhorns with 47 total kills.
Sophomore All-America outside hitter Haley Eckerman earned nine kills, five digs and three blocks, while senior utility Sha'Dare McNeal had eight kills on 15 attempts with no errors for a .533 hitting percentage. McNeal also posted two assists, seven digs and four blocks. Junior setter Hannah Allison added three kills, 32 assists, two service aces and eight digs.
Florida (27-5) was led by Chloe Mann with 14 kills on 22 attempts with three errors for a .500 clip. Mann also registered two digs and three blocks.
Both teams came out for set one swinging hard. Down 13-10, Texas launched a 7-1 run that was highlighted by two service aces from freshman libero Kat Brooks. The Gators kept it close, but UT secured the set with two straight kills from Webster, who posted five kills in the set. Sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Khat Bell, who earned three kills and one service ace in the set, registered four of Texas' first seven points in set one.
The second set began with three straight points for the Gators, but proved to be close throughout with 15 tied scores and five lead changes. A late 4-0 run gave the Gators a 20-17 lead, but the Horns responded with 5-2 run of their own--which featured three kills from Webster--to tie the set at 22. Texas put the set away with four unanswered points, including a kill from Eckerman at set point.
Leading 7-6 in the third, momentum swung in Texas' favor as they launched a 9-2 run that was punctuated by four kills from Webster. A stretch of five unanswered points put UT up 22-11 and gave the Horns their largest margin of the match at 11. Despite a late 5-1 run from the Gators, Texas closed the match with kills from Eckerman and Webster. The Horns earned a .400 team hitting percentage in the third.
Tomorrow night’s winner will advance to the NCAA Final Four next week in Louisville, Ky. Tomorrow’s match at 8 p.m. Central Time will be broadcast live on ESPNU. Gametracker live stats will be available on TexasSports.com with live Twitter updates @TexasVolleyball.
Notes: Tomorrow night will be just the second time that Texas and USC has faced each other in the postseason…USC swept Texas in the 2007 regional final in Gainesville, Fla…Texas swept Florida earlier this season on Aug. 31 in University Park, Pa. (29-27, 25-22, 26-24)…Texas is now 4-4 all-time in the postseason against Florida…Bailey Webster has 47 kills in three postseason matches, hitting .519 (47-7-77) with seven blocks while Haley Eckerman has 34 kills while hitting .321 with 16 digs and five blocks.