Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Texas Sweeps Texas Tech; Eckerman's Spike Attempts Increase Without Bell in Lineup

No. 8 Texas came here to Lubbock and made short work of Texas Tech, 25-16, 25-15, 25-18. Above is a shot I took of the Longhorns walking toward the net to shake hands with the Red Raiders at the conclusion of the match. The contest was the first for Texas without middle blocker Khat Bell, who injured her knee in a weekend match in the midst of an amazing three-match hitting stretch.

How did the Longhorns reallocate their spike attempts without Bell? The most direct comparison would be Texas's statistics in its two matches this season against Texas Tech, with Bell (Oct. 12 in Austin) and without her (tonight). Here are links to the box scores of the first and second matches. Looking at only two matches is not ideal, but it's a start. Additional matches can be examined as the Longhorns' season moves toward a close. Here are graphs of the Horns' hit allocations in their two matches against the Red Raiders (the first column doesn't add to 100%, due to rounding).

The Longhorns seemed to compensate for Bell's absence tonight by increasing their outside sets to Haley Eckerman. The move worked well, as Eckerman hit .595 on 23 kills with only 1 attack error, on 37 spike attempts (UT as a team took 106 swings, hitting .396). Rachael Adams also exceeded .500 tonight (.556), albeit on far fewer attempts (6-1-9). One reason Texas was able to hit so well tonight was that Tech had only 1 total team block for the match.

The Red Raiders hit only .126 tonight. A bright spot for them, however, was junior right-side hitter Miara Cave, who hit .471 for the evening (10-2-17). 

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