Texas sweeps TCU to win Big 12 opener

Claire Cruz

No. 2 Texas defeated unranked TCU in straight sets Wednesday in its Big 12 Conference opener at Gregory Gymmnasium. Texas is now 11-1 and on the right track to claiming a fifth-straight conference title.

“We’re excited to start Big 12 play,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “TCU is a formidable team and give credit to [it] for battling us, but I liked our team’s demeanor and the way we battled back.”

The Longhorns started set one well, but miscommunication between passers shifted the momentum in TCU’s favor. Several attack errors from the Horned Frogs sparked a 6-0 run for Texas, and the Longhorns took control of the set from there. TCU saved three set points, but Texas clinched the opening frame, 25-19.

Junior outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame led Texas’ offense with six kills and a .857 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Amy Neal added five kills and a service ace.

TCU came out strong in the next set, taking a 4-0 lead, forcing Texas to call a timeout early. The Longhorns then put together a scoring run of their own before swapping points with TCU through the middle part of the set.

The second set went at a slower pace than Texas is accustomed to, which was evident in its defense. Weak passes led to weak hits, allowing TCU to push long rallies and keep the set close. Texas pushed the pace late in the set to earn the victory, 25-21, after nine ties and five lead changes.

Junior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu had six kills in the second set to lead Texas offensively. Senior middle blocker Molly McCage and sophomore middle blocker Mirta Baselovic both recorded three blocks, while sophomore libero Cat McCoy notched five digs.

“We got into a little funk,” Cerame said. “You have to be able to cut it off and stay focused, and we were able to get out so that was good.”

Texas jumped out to an early lead in the third set behind big swings from Neal and McCage but couldn’t keep the tempo up. A few net violations — namely attack and ball handling errors — by Texas allowed TCU to string together a 6-0 run and take the lead, 15-14.

Uncalled ball-handling errors by TCU brought the crowd to life, and Texas rallied behind that emotion to get to match point. The Horned Frogs fought back and saved four match points, but Texas came out victorious, 29-27.

“For us to be in that situation is sometimes nice,” Elliott said. “You see what your team is made of, and overall we were very efficient and able to establish the game.”

Texas’ next match will be against unranked West Virginia on Friday in Morgantown, West Virginia.