Third-ranked Longhorns outlast Iowa State in four sets, remain undefeated in conference play

Matt Warden

Six have tried, six have failed.

Third-ranked Texas (13-2, 6-0 Big 12) notched its ninth-consecutive victory and sixth-straight in the Big 12 on Saturday, dispatching Iowa State 3-1. Although the Longhorns outhit the Cyclones .303-.187 for the match, a sluggish first set caused Texas to play catch-up.

“I thought Iowa State played really well in game one,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We just have to be able to respond better from the serve/receive side when things aren’t going well. We need people to step up. Give credit to Iowa State. They’re a good team and they play at a high level. We were able to match that after
game one.”

The first set quickly became a war of attrition as the teams traded point-for-point until a 5-2 run gave Iowa State a 13-10 lead and control. Despite six kills from junior outside hitter Haley Eckerman in the set, the Longhorns lost the error battle 5-3, were outhit .419-.273 and dropped the set 25-19.

Texas jumped out on top early in the second set before the Cyclones rallied to cut the lead to 10-9. The Longhorns would end the set on a 15-5 run behind four kills and two aces from Eckerman, who was relieved to find her confidence again on
the court.

“The coaches have been working with me a lot on shaking the last game off, trying to be smarter with my decisions, manage my game more and be okay with being dug and take the attempt instead of an error,” Eckerman said.

After falling behind 11-10 in the third set, the Longhorns used an 8-0 run to take a commanding lead before eventually winning 25-19. Senior outside hitter Bailey Webster recorded six of the team’s 14 kills in the set, while the team forced Iowa State into eight errors.

In the fourth set of action the game began much like the first with the teams trading points until the Longhorns 3-0 run gave them a five-point lead. Iowa State fought back time and time again but Texas finally took the set and match with a 25-22 set victory.

“I think we just were playing calm and staying steady and trying to make it so that we weren’t making the errors,” Eckerman said. “Forcing them to make the errors and worry about our side and what we were doing right. Focus on what we needed to do.”

Webster led Texas with 15 kills while Eckerman looked as impressive as ever with 14 kills and three aces. Texas’ defense proved to be the key late in the match as it forced Iowa State to commit 27 errors while it only surrendered 13.

In addition to strong play by the Longhorns’ All-American outside hitters, freshmen setter Chloe Collins and outside hitter Pilar Victoria each recorded
career nights.

Collins set a career-high .600 hitting percentage while notching three kills and 29 assists, and Victoria notched a career-high .571 hitting percentage with four kills. Despite dropping the first set the team was not concerned with giving the young players some vital playing time.

“The team is always really supportive regardless of who is on the court or not,” Collins said. “It was a great atmosphere tonight.”

The 4,344 fans that packed Gregory Gym was the second-largest home crowd since 1998 and the Longhorns delivered with its 44th consecutive home Big 12 victory.

Texas continues its torrid pace of beating conference competition and will go for its 10th consecutive win against West Virginia on Wednesday.