Volleyball set to face rival Oklahoma

Nick Castillo

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.”