Longhorns take down Red Raiders, continue Big 12 dominance

Michael Shapiro

Since his arrival in Austin prior to the 2001 season, head coach Jerritt Elliott has never lost a match to the Texas Tech Red Raiders. That streak continued Saturday as No. 2 Texas (16-1, 6-0 Big 12) took down unranked Texas Tech (13-8, 2-5) in straight sets. In the 90th all-time meeting between programs, the Longhorns prevailed once again, earning their 12th win in a row and their sixth straight against Big 12 opponents.

“We’ve been building a lot of confidence in our teams these past several games,” junior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu said. “We’re playing hard and we have been working on what we need to be working on heading into the tournament.”

The Longhorns struggled out of the gate Saturday as the combination of shoddy Texas passing and a stout Texas Tech defense brought the score to 15-13 Longhorns, prior to a timeout by Red Raiders head coach Don Flora. But the Texas attack proved to be too much for the Red Raiders as the set wore on, with Texas going on a 10-5 run to close out the set 25-18. Senior outside hitter Amy Neal provided the spark for the Longhorns offense, filling the stat sheet to the tune of seven kills, three digs and an ace in the opening set.

“I’ve been trusting my teammates and trusting the system,” Neal said. “That’s been my biggest thing this year. Don’t swing away at every attempt and don’t expect to get a kill every time.”

While it looked as though Texas may cruise to an effortless victory following the first set, the match’s second frame proved to be far from easy. Throughout the set, the Tech defense stifled the Longhorns, causing the Red Raiders to come within two points of claiming the second set at 23-21. However, the veterans for the Longhorns came through in the clutch, taking four consecutive points — including two kills by Neal — to close the set 25-23.

“The leadership on this team has been really solid this year,” Elliott said. “There’s a lot of trust on this team, and they have confidence in crunch-time to get the job done.”

The Red Raiders provided another quality effort in the third set, but quickly ran out of gas following the intense second set. Texas jumped out to a 11-7 lead in the final set and never looked back as they took the set 25-17, and the match 3-0.

Following the victory over Tech, the Longhorns will continue chasing a fifth-straight Big 12 title Wednesday as they take on unranked Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas.