Eckerman helps Texas remain undefeated in Big 12 play


Elisabeth Dillon

Haley Eckerman led the Longhorns to a win in Waco with 14 kills, five digs and two blocks. Texas is undefeated in conference play.

Rachel Thompson

In its second Big 12 match, No. 9 Texas swept Baylor 3-0 Tuesday in Waco, holding the Bears to a .050 hitting percentage.

“We’re trying to formulate something where we can win the conference but also have a chance to be a final-four team to contend for a national championship,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said Saturday. “It’s not just about putting out a lineup. It’s about figuring out how players perform and giving them opportunities in different scenarios to see how that goes.”

The Longhorns were led by outside hitter Haley Eckerman, who notched 14 kills, five digs and two blocks. Junior setter Hannah Allison tied her career-high five kills and pitched in 30 assists, while outside hitter Bailey Webster tacked on 11 kills.

Baylor had a 6-2 run early in the first set, but two Baylor errors and an ace by libero Sarah Palmer allowed Texas to capture the lead. Eckerman had three additional kills, but Baylor began to catch up and narrow Texas’ lead. Webster finished the set with a kill, winning the first set for Texas.

The second set saw a similar early lead by the Bears. Eckerman’s solo block added to a 6-1 Texas streak, and Eckerman later finalized the match to give the Horns a 2-0 lead.

A strong opening gave Texas an early lead in the third set, but Baylor kept it close at 13-12 in the middle of the set. A block by utilities Madelyn Hutson and Sha’Dare McNeal was followed by two Baylor blocks to place the set at a close 24-22, but a hitting error by Baylor allowed Texas to polish off the sweep. 

The game marked a quick turnaround after Saturday’s match against Oklahoma, but Elliott said the closeness of games does not alter the team’s routines.

“I’m really big in terms of our routines,” he said. “We’ve got to get used to playing in different gyms, so this is a good opportunity for us.”

The Baylor atmosphere also provided a good challenge for the Longhorns, Elliott said.

“Our conference has some good wings, and they’re a good team,” he said. “It’s in-state pride, and we take a lot of pride in it, as do they. For us it’s still about playing on our side of the net. We’re still focusing on the other team, but how we play the game is our key.”

The Longhorns will be on the road again this weekend, traveling to another Texas town to play Texas Tech Saturday at 2 p.m.