After a rough start to last week, head coach Jerritt Elliott gave his volleyball team a couple of days off to rest and relax.
The Longhorns held off a tough Nebraska team on Sept. 20, survived a test at West Virginia on Wednesday and had to deal with travel issues, which cost Texas the chance to come back to Austin in between games.
“Emotionally, we hadn’t given them a lot of time off because our schedule and how hard we were going,” Elliott said.
Now well rested and riding the momentum of an undefeated season, Texas will open up its Big 12 home schedule Wednesday against Iowa State, a team that has given them fits in the past.
The Longhorns got their dose of adversity last week, defeating longtime rival Nebraska in front of over 8,000 fans in Lincoln, Nebraska. They then had to stay in Nebraska for an extra day because of issues with a charter plane.
From there, the team flew straight to Morgantown, West Virginia, where their Big 12 opener was their toughest fight yet. Texas dropped the opening two sets to West Virginia but battled through to take a 3-2 comeback victory.
“As a coach, you don’t want to go into those games and be in those situations, but there’s part of you that wants to be in those situations and learn how to come out of it,” Elliott said.
Up until the last two games, the Longhorns hadn’t exactly had to deal with a serious challenge. They won 3-1 against Florida at the start of the month — but won every other match in a sweep.
However, having to go to five sets in the last two matches has given the team valuable experience it can use going on further this season, Elliott said.
“It was the first time that we had been uncomfortable and uneasy,” said Elliott about the West Virginia game. “It was the first time as a coaching staff where we had to figure out how to handle this team.”
While the Longhorns have opened up the season undefeated, their opponent this week has struggled. Iowa State comes in 7-4 so far, but lost to TCU on Saturday to open up conference play and has lost all three of its games against ranked opponents.
But the Cyclones are known to give the Longhorns trouble. They’re the only team to defeat Texas in conference play within the past two years.
Elliott said one of the reasons the Cyclones are a tough win is because of their never-say-die attitude and discipline.
“When you [have] the combination of those characteristics you can be a very tough team to play,” Elliott said.
The match is one of two tough matches for the Longhorns in the span of five days. The team will travel to Lawrence, Kansas, on Sunday to face the Jayhawks, who were ranked before losing to Oklahoma.
“[Our opponents] were preseason picks to finish two and three in our conference,” Elliott said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”