Texas volleyball sweeps Kansas, celebrates Big 12 title

Nick Castillo

Smiles were wide, horns were up and the 2014 Big 12 trophy was in the Longhorn volleyball team’s hands as it celebrated its fourth-consecutive Big 12 Championship after sweeping Kansas on Saturday.

A week after clinching the title in a five-set thriller against Oklahoma, No. 3 Texas (22-1, 14-1 Big 12) finally got to celebrate its accomplishment. In front of a sold-out crowd in Gregory Gym, the Longhorns took care of business, downing Kansas in three sets (25-20, 25-23, 25-18). After the match, the Big 12 championship trophy was presented to the team along with commemorative T-shirts.

“[The trophy] means a lot,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It’s very hard to win when you play a double round robin and the way that we performed and had our backs against the walls some matches where we have come through. It takes a lot of work, and these girls have put the work in since the summer and stayed here and committed to themselves.”

Over the past two games, Texas was challenged early as it dropped the first set in each game. But the Longhorns found their stride early Saturday against the Jayhawks. While Kansas battled with Texas throughout the first set, the Longhorns overcame their first-set blues and claimed the opening set, 25-20.

“It’s always really important to be able to come out and execute at a high level,” Elliott said. “I just felt like they were ready to play today. … It’s the first time we really played consistently all the way through for a while, and it’s nice to see it this time of the year.”

The Jayhawks jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second set, but Texas went on an 8-1 run to claim an 8-4 lead. The Longhorns led for most of the set until Kansas came roaring back to take an 18-17 lead. The two sides fought back and forth, with Texas coming out on top, 25-23.

With momentum on their side, the Longhorns cruised to a 25-18 win in the third set and claimed their 14th sweep of the season.

Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman led the team in kills with nine. Junior middle blocker Molly McCage had seven kills and led the team with seven blocks. Khat Bell, senior middle blocker and outside hitter, and sophomore outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame both finished the match with seven kills.