Texas hitters lead Longhorns to 3-0 weekend at Wildcat Classic

Claire Cruz

No. 2 Texas had another successful weekend, going 3-0 in its first road trip of the season at the Wildcat Classic in Tucson, Arizona.

The Longhorns (10-1) defeated Savannah State (25-7, 25-9, 25-9) in straight sets, No. 16 Arizona (22-25, 25-16, 27-25, 20-25, 15-6) in a thrilling five-set match and New Mexico State (25-22, 25-27, 25-23, 25-19) in four sets.

“This weekend was a good test for us, since we hadn’t played away at all,” senior outside hitter Amy Neal said. “They were really good wins for us, and we played pretty well.”

In its game against a Savannah State squad that hasn’t won a set all season, Texas notched a season-high .565 team hitting percentage on 38 kills with just three errors. Sophomore middle blocker Mirta Baselovic played her best game as a Longhorn, tallying a career-high six kills and a team-high three blocks. Neal led Texas with nine kills, junior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu added eight, and junior setter Chloe Collins recorded 20 assists and three service aces.

The match against Arizona was Texas’ fourth against a ranked team, and it clinched the victory behind career-highs from five Longhorns — Neal with 24 kills, senior middle blocker Molly McCage with 14 kills, Ogbogu with eight digs, Collins with 63 assists and six blocks and freshman middle blocker Morgan Johnson with eight blocks. Texas also registered a season-high 65 kills.

“We had an emotional, five-set win,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It wasn’t as smooth as we would’ve liked, but the players were gritty, and that’s the most important thing.”

The final set of the weekend featured live arms from Texas again. The Longhorns had four players finish with double-digit kills, led by Neal with 16 and Ogbogu with 15, tying her career high. Sophomore libero Cat McCoy had a team-high 17 digs, and McCage, Ogbogu and Collins each finished with four blocks.

Texas returns to Gregory Gymnasium on Wednesday to start Big 12 Conference play against TCU. The Longhorns will take the momentum they gained in Arizona as they try to and start the conference season with a win.

“It’s great that we went 3-0,” Elliott said. “Three matches in 24 hours is asking a lot. Now we can go back and get ready to play for another Big 12 championship.”