Gregory Gym

Gregory Gym to become home venue for Austin Aces during 2015 season

Gregory Gymnasium has primarily played host to basketball and volleyball, but this summer it will add indoor tennis to the list.

The Austin Aces, out of Mylan World TeamTennis, announced Monday that it would play its seven home matches in Gregory Gym after playing at the Cedar Park Center last year.

“We are thrilled to have been able to find a downtown home in Gregory Gym on the UT campus as the Aces work to become Austin’s premier professional sports brand and the must-attend sporting event each summer,” Aces owner Lorne Abony said in a press release.

Abony said that getting a downtown venue was something they found while evaluating the team over the offseason both on and off the court.

“From feedback we received and the analysis that was done by our front office, we felt that a relocation to a venue located closer to the city center would be in our team’s best interest,” Albony said.

While Gregory seats 4,000 people for volleyball, the Aces said that capacity for tennis matches will be over 3,500 along with VIP tables and courtside seating.

The Aces went 6-8 in its inaugural season last year, finishing third in the Western Conference. Austin is led by former world No. 1 Andy Roddick, who also resides in the area. The roster also includes two former NCAA champions as well as the second-ranked Russian on the ATP Tour, Teymur Gabashvili.  The team is coached by nine-time Grand Slam doubles champion Rick Leach.

The Aces open up their 2015 season July 13 on the road at the Boston Lobsters and will play their first home match on July 16 against the California Dream.

Freshman libero Cat McCoy is averaging four digs a set on the season and will look to increase that number against No. 22 Kansas State on Friday.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The last time the Longhorns played a Big 12 match in Gregory Gym, they left the game with a bad taste in their mouths.

After beating Oklahoma in every match in Austin since 2008, Texas finally fell 3-0 due in large part to unforced errors, including seven service errors.

“The girls were very upset about it, and the coaches thought about it and looked at a lot of film [to] evaluate everything,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “But at the end of the day, you get back and understand that losses are a part of college athletics.”

Since that loss, the Longhorns have won their past four matches, including games against Texas Tech and Iowa State on the road and the two exhibition matches against Zhejiang.

But Texas will now face its toughest Big 12 match since that loss when it goes up against No. 22 Kansas State at home Friday.

“That game against Oklahoma — we did not play our game at all, and we played a little intimidated, and we were just shaky,” freshman libero Cat McCoy said. “So we’re just going to come out and dominate and play how we normally play.”

Before the loss to Oklahoma, the Longhorns were undefeated and running through conference play with relative ease. Even at the start of the match, Texas had a 10-5 lead in the first set before it all went downhill with errors.

However, the Longhorns have rebounded well after the loss. Despite dropping a set, Texas took care of business against Iowa State, a team that has been difficult for them in the past. On Wednesday night, the Longhorns dominated every facet of the game in a clean sweep of Texas Tech in Lubbock.

In those two road games, Texas posted hitting percentages of .259 and .262 and combined for nine service errors and two reception errors — two things that hurt in the loss to Oklahoma.

“It just shows that we’re doing the simple things right,” McCoy said. “We’re executing at a high level right now, which is good.”

The going is about to get a little bit tougher with Kansas State coming into town. While the Wildcats will likely fall from their No. 22 ranking after losing to Iowa State on Wednesday, they remain a contender for the conference title if Texas were to stumble again down the road. Kansas State also ranks second in the conference in kills, assists and blocks per set.

Offensively, freshman outside hitter Kylee Zumach, who is third in the Big 12 with 325 kills and fourth with 355 points scored, leads the Wildcats. On the defensive end, senior middle blocker Natali Jones leads the conference with 114 blocks.

Still, Elliott said the team’s focus is on the Texas side of the net and being more consistent.

“We’ll have a game where we’ll hit .400 or .500 and then hit .200,” Elliott said. “So it’s coming out and managing our game.”

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

After the volleyball team won a record 34th straight home game against TCU on Wednesday, the streak was snapped as Oklahoma swept No. 2 Texas (26-24, 26-24, 26-24) on Saturday.

The Longhorns came out strong but never managed to find consistency in front of a record-setting crowd of 4,402. While the Sooners gave Texas trouble throughout the game, the Longhorns’ own errors hurt them the most, as they committed 15 attack errors, 14 service errors and two blocking errors.

“I thought we did fine,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “[But] we missed seven serves in game one, and that kind of became a stress level for us and carried over to all parts of the game. We were never able to get the composure that we needed, and we were on our heels from that point on.”

In the opening set, Texas had its foot on the gas as senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman opened the game with three kills, and the Longhorns had a 10-5 lead. But, the errors began to mount, and Texas lost its rhythm. The Sooners fought their way back into the game and tied the set at 19. 

The match went back and forth, but Oklahoma got the best of Texas and claimed the set, 26-24. The Longhorns committed seven service errors, three attack errors and one blocking error in the first set.

After losing its first set in Gregory Gym this season, Texas started the second set on a 5-1 run, but the Sooners kept it close and eventually tied the set at 11. Both teams battled in the middle of the set, exchanging the lead seven times with nine ties. But, once again, Oklahoma bettered Texas and put the Longhorns down 0-2.

With a two-game lead, Oklahoma started off the third set as the aggressor and opened with a 5-2 lead. Texas didn’t give in and was able to tie the match at 10 thanks to three kills by junior middle blocker Molly McCage. But the 0-2 deficit was too much to overcome. Oklahoma won the set, 26-24.

The upset loss to Oklahoma ended Texas’ 34-match regular season winning streak, 34-match home winning streak and 44-match Big 12 home winning streak, all three of which were program records. The loss also marked the first time the Longhorns were swept at home since losing to then-No. 5 Illinois on Sept. 3, 2010 — a 63-match streak.

“[This is] a wake-up call,” sophomore setter Chloe Collins said. “Like [Elliott] says, we need perspective that every team is going to play their best, and we need to be ready. As a team, we just need to get back in practice and prepare.”

Elliott said the team can still accomplish its goals despite the loss.

“We have to get back and get better,” Elliott said. “It’s a long season and at the end of the day, we still have an opportunity to win the conference, and that’s what our first goal is. We have to get back to the drawing board.”

Texas returns to action in two exhibition games against Chinese club team Zhejiang on Monday and Tuesday, both at 7 p.m. at Gregory Gym.

Junior middle blocker Molly McCage, who leads the Longhorns in blocks with 1.31 per set, is ready for Oklahoma.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The Red River Showdown will make its way to the volleyball court Saturday, as No. 2 Texas (15-0, 7-0 Big 12) takes on archrival Oklahoma (14-6, 5-2 Big 12).

While it may not get the same attention as the football side of the rivalry, junior middle blocker Molly McCage expects the game to be just as intense.

“I actually know some of the [Oklahoma] girls, so it’s more fun,” McCage said. “[There’s] smack-talk back and forth; it’s not anything super meaningful. But I love the rivalry between us still. I love that the fans are super supportive behind us and everything. It’s a more emotional and entertaining game.”

The fans will play an important role, as the Longhorns will play in front of a sold-out home crowd for the first time this season. Head coach Jerritt Elliott expects the crowd to be a major advantage.

“[A sellout] brings so much energy to [the team],” Elliott said. “It gets their adrenaline flowing. It makes [Gregory Gym] significantly louder. It creates energy flow. The fans want to be more involved in [the game] because there are more people. … When you have that, it’s nice.”

While Texas is looking forward to its upcoming rivalry game, it has some tuneups to make before Saturday. Although the Longhorns made history Wednesday night, winning their 34th straight home game and improving to 15-0, Elliott was disappointed with the team’s play.

“I thought [Wednesday] we got pretty comfortable with just who we were,” Elliott said. “We felt like we were going to win the game, and that’s the challenge now: for me to get back to them and see if we can improve on that.”

Despite Elliott’s disappointment, McCage says the team recognizes what it struggled with against TCU.

“I understand [Elliott’s] disappointment,” McCage said. “There were some things we practiced all this week that we didn’t execute during the game. That’s a minor setback, but I think our team did well regardless of the minor mistakes that we made. We still did well and finished the match.”

Texas will look to McCage when it takes on Oklahoma, as she leads the Longhorns in blocks with 1.31 per set, good for second in the Big 12 and 37th in the NCAA. McCage also leads team which ranks seventh in the Big 12 with a .340 hitting percentage this season.

McCage and Texas take on the Sooners at 5 p.m. Saturday in Gregory Gym, with the game being broadcast on the Longhorn Network.

“I’m super excited about this game,” McCage said. “I know that it’s at home and our gym is going to be super packed. I’m expecting a lot of huge plays coming from my team. But I think OU is going to show us whatever they got.”

Photo Credit: Claire Schaper | Daily Texan Staff

In front of a raucous crowd of 2,827, the Longhorns made history Wednesday by winning their 34th straight game in Gregory Gym, with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 25-22) victory over TCU.

“[The win streak] is very impressive,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It means a lot in regards to the program that the players and the alumni have created here. They’ve bought in. We have a rich tradition, but, more importantly, it’s very hard to maintain being at the top all of the time. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do.”

Despite a rocky third set, No. 2 Texas (15-0, 7-0 Big 12) was able to race past the Horned Frogs (12-10, 2-6 Big 12) as it had 43 kills, 41 digs and finished with a .309 hitting percentage.

In the first set, Texas battled back and forth as TCU tied the game at five early in the set. But the Longhorns were able to go on a 5-0 run and separated themselves from the Horned Frogs. TCU fought valiantly to remain in the game, but Texas was too much to handle as it claimed the opening set 25-14.

Although the Horned Frogs fell in the first set, they continued to give the Longhorns a challenge. In the second set, Texas opened up an 8-3 lead, but TCU fought its way back into the game and eventually tied the set at 13. The second set featured four ties and two lead changes, but the Longhorns came out on top with a
25-16 win.

After the intermission, TCU gave the Longhorns their biggest trouble in the third set. The Horned Frogs raced out to an 8-3 lead, but Texas rallied back and tied the set at 10 after going on a 7-2 run. The match went back and forth as there were 12 ties and five different lead changes. The Longhorns managed to break away from the Horned Frogs after the set was tied at 22 and won the set 25-22 and the game 3-0.

Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman led the team in kills with 12, followed by sophomore outside hitter Pilar Victoria’s eight. Victoria led the Longhorns with 10 digs. Texas’ leading assist was sophomore utility player Nicole Dalton with 19 assists.

While the Longhorns made history Wednesday and remained undefeated this season, Elliott wasn’t happy about the team’s performance.

“I was a little disappointed tonight in the way that we prepared and the way that we performed and the level we played at,” Elliott said. “The way that we played last Saturday, the energy we brought, we sustained a very high level. I thought tonight we got pretty comfortable … we felt like we were going to win the game.”

The Longhorns will try to extend their home winning streak against Oklahoma (14-6, 5-2 Big 12) on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Texas volleyball would set the record for longest home win streak in program history with a victory Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

It’s no secret that Texas has a tremendous home-court advantage in Gregory Gym.

Between all of the hard surfaces and configurations, including an up-close and personal student section, Gregory Gym boasts one of the best environments for volleyball in the country.

“It’s an amazing gym,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “The setup of it has been fantastic.”

Now, the Longhorns have a chance to do what no other Longhorn team has done in Gregory Gym — win 34 straight games.

With a win Wednesday night against TCU, Texas would surpass the 2011-2012 Longhorn team for the longest home-win streak in program history. But, despite the allure of such an achievement, Elliott said the team isn’t going to talk too much about it before the match.

“There might be a slight mention, but it’s not that important to us,” Elliott said.

Gregory Gym hasn’t always played home to volleyball. While the gym, along with the Frank Erwin Center, hosted the team from the program’s start in 1990, the team moved to the Recreational Sports Center and remained there until the end of the 1997 season. Beginning in 1998, the Longhorns moved back to Gregory permanently and have been dominant since, posting a .863 winning percentage at home.

In the past 11 seasons, the Longhorns have been almost unbeatable at home. In that span, Texas has gone nearly undefeated in its home schedule, including this season’s 6-0 streak, and posted a .944 winning percentage.

Elliott said, while this year’s team isn’t focused on the record, they do want to recognize the players who helped start it.

“It’s more important to recognize the players that came before us that helped us create this streak,” Elliott said.

The configuration of Gregory Gym makes it a difficult place for opponents to play. It’s almost completely comprised of hard surfaces, leaving nothing — other than the championship banners — to soak up any of the sound. That, coupled with the fans sitting almost on top of the court, can make the gym loud for opposing teams.

Elliott said a growing fan base has also helped with the advantage.

“Our players feed off of that,” Elliott said. “I think it’s an environment that should be sold out on a nightly basis. We know the students are coming out as often as possible.”

Opponents have also noticed the difficulties of playing at Gregory. Elliott said it has been difficult for Texas to schedule opponents in Austin, leading the Longhorns to schedule two matches next week against Zhejiang New Century Tourism, which won the top Chinese women’s volleyball league
in spring.

“Everyone is so concerned about RPI,” Elliott said. “The conferences are so big that a lot of teams need to get ‘W’s so they can have a record to make the NCAA tournament.”

TCU comes into the match looking for its first ever win against Texas. The Longhorns swept the past two matches against the Horned Frogs and have won all seven previous meetings against them since TCU joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012.

Texas will continue its home conference schedule Saturday against Oklahoma at 5 p.m. 

Photo Credit: Jenna VonHofe | Daily Texan Staff

Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman stepped back to serve in the middle of the first set against Baylor. She threw the ball into the air and slapped it ferociously across the net for a service ace. While it only counted as one point in the first set, it’s just one example of how dominant No. 2 Texas (12-0, 4-0 Big 12) has been in Gregory Gym this season. 

The Longhorns have played five games at home and have yet to drop a set. Texas has been able to maintain a perfect record at home because it’s playing well as a team and using its depth and balance to its advantage.

“We’re very balanced, and we’re very deep,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I can only play so many players at a time, but we are very fortunate because we have great chemistry.”

The Longhorns have been able to win every set at home this season because of their defense. In its five games at Gregory Gym this season, Texas has held its opponents to a .130 hitting average.

“Our blocking has been getting better,” Elliott said. “It’s a big part of our practice. We are doing the same thing every single day in the gym, getting good in those areas, and we are starting to see some results from it.”

While Texas is undefeated at home, Elliott said that the team is still working to improve.

“We’ve got a really good group of girls that understands what it takes to be great, and they want that,” Elliott said. “They have pretty high goals and expectations, so it’s about us getting better … But it’s really about focusing. It’s about improving and getting our continuity and getting better in the areas that we are working
on practice.”

Sophomore setter Chloe Collins echoed Elliott’s belief, as she says that the team’s ability to get gel and improve will help them throughout the season.

“I think it’s just going through practice and the same routines,” Collins said. “Over time, we are just starting to gel together. … That translates over into the match what you do in practice, so [we] try to execute that.”

 Thursday’s game against Texas Tech will present a challenge, as it will be their third game in five days. While it may be challenging, Elliott said that this will be the only opportunity Texas has to replicate a tournament scenario.

“We don’t get to play back-to-back, so this is the only opportunity, the closest we can, to replicate that and get them use to that and know what that turnaround time is,” Elliott said.

The Longhorns and Red Raiders square off Thursday at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

Following a shocking exit in the semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championships in December, the Longhorns will play their annual spring match Saturday against New Mexico State at Gregory Gym, where wins are almost a guarantee.

The match with New Mexico State will be the fifth for the Longhorns this spring, as the team recently competed in the F.A.S.T. Complex Collegiate Invitational last weekend. The Longhorns picked up three wins against UTSA, Oklahoma and Texas A&M before falling to Rice in the final match of the tournament.

Texas will be buoyed by junior outside hitter and perennial All-American Haley Eckerman, who led the team with 447 total kills during the 2013 season. The middle of the Longhorns’ rotation will be led by junior middle blocker Khat Bell and sophomore middle blocker Molly McCage, who finished third and fourth in total kills with 188 and 154, respectively, during the season.

Texas compiled a 13-0 record at home during the regular season and swept the conference with a perfect 16-0 record.

First serve for the match will be Saturday at 4 p.m., and fans can watch the two-hour match on the Longhorn Network.

UTPD reported a credit card theft at Gregory Gym on Sunday, the second credit card theft report at the gym within a two-week period.

According to the report, the theft occurred between 9:50 a.m. Friday and 6:10 p.m. Sunday. Officer William Pieper said the victim reported there has been one fraudulent charge made to the card since being stolen.

On Jan. 30, UTPD arrested a student outside Gregory Gym for credit card or debit card abuse after reviewing security camera footage and records from a card proximity reader. Pieper said the same methods could be used to investigate Sunday’s theft.

“It’s up to the detective who was assigned that case, and they have a variety of different techniques they can use,” Pieper said.

Surveillance cameras can be used to identify suspects, and card proximity readers keep records of swipe-ins, which can tell officers who was in the gym at any given time. The department can also use subpoenas to locate suspects.

“If it’s a credit card or debit card that’s used to make a purchase, sometimes they’ll have it delivered some place and then we can get a
subpoena for that PO box or that address to find out who lives there,” Pieper said.

Pieper said theft out of the gym is a common occurrence because of students’ tendency to leave items unsecured in lockers.

“Theft at Gregory Gym is very common, not just of credit or debit cards, but cash, iPods and clothing,” Pieper said. “There are a variety of different things that students come with and leave unsecured in their lockers or on the
basketball courts.”

UTPD will continue to focus on public education as a means of crime prevention, according to Pieper.

“As far as prevention is concerned, we always look at public information programs like the campus watch, media stories and things of that nature,” Pieper said.

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

For the eighth straight year, the Longhorns have advanced to the NCAA regional, or round of 16, after knocking off Texas A&M (25-14, 25-18, 15-25, 25-19) Friday evening in Gregory Gym.  While Texas State’s quick-tempo offense avoided the Texas block in the first round, the Aggies couldn’t find their away around Texas’ front line, who recorded a season-high 18.5 blocks in the match.

“We’re not used to going up against Bailey [Webster] who touches 17 feet,” A&M middle Sierra Patrick joked. “They are supposed to block us. They are massive.”

Four of the seven first game blocks came in the match’s first 12 points, helping Texas jump to a 9-3 advantage. Senior setter Hannah Allison also started the match spreading the ball more than against Texas State where 75 of the 110 sets went to All-American outsides Haley Eckerman and Bailey Webster. With better ball movement came better results as Texas swung a season-best .684 in the first set.

“Film refreshed our minds a bit,” junior middle Khat Bell, who recorded eight blocks in the match, said. “We were feeling it from the start.”

Texas’ ability to put the ball away didn’t carry into the second match as A&M was able to hang around. The Longhorns had the same amount of kills—14—as they did in the first set, but needed 28 more attempts. However, A&M’s inability to put balls away and nine errors, led to Texas going on a 13-5 run to close the match.

Texas’ sluggish played continued into the third set, where poor passing and eight hitting errors, led to A&M crushing the Longhorns by ten points, their second worst set of the year.

“We broke down passing while having some bad swings offensively,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We had eight hitting errors. And on the flip side, the Aggies played well.”

The Aggies kept the momentum rolling into the fourth set, opening a 6-3 lead. Led by Webster and the Texas block, though, the Longhorns went on a 6-1 run to open a 9-7 advantage; they wouldn’t trail again. A 7-0 run pushed the Longhorns lead to 19-12, before they closed out the rival Aggies.

“We got back to the basics and starting playing our game.” Eckerman said.

Eckerman finished the night with 20 kills while Webster recorded 18 of her own. The Longhorns, who finished the night swinging .298, will continue their road to Seattle Dec. 10 in Lincoln, NE where they could potentially face No. 16 Duke and No. 8 Nebraska on their home court if they win their second round games Saturday.

“It was a battle,” Elliott said. “It’s hard to play a perfect match. They put pressure on us and I’m proud of how our team responded. No matter what seed you are, we don’t take this win for granted. It’s an honor to be in the round of 16.”