Elliott leads Longhorns in quest for title

Michael Shapiro

Head coach Jerritt Elliott isn’t satisfied. His Longhorns have won 12 matches in a row — nine of them in straight sets  — but as Elliott stood on the corner of the court during Texas’s Friday practice at Gregory Gym, the 47-year-old coach from Pacific Palisades, California, refused to let his team relax. 

Elliott doesn’t say much during practice, but his words carry extra weight. He shuffles his team through drills with short commands, shouting “weave” and “10-man” from the sidelines., as the No. 2 Longhorns follow his instructions to a tee. Why wouldn’t they? In his time in Austin, Elliott has been one of the premier coaches in the country, boasting a record of 365–86  heading into Wednesday evening’s match against Kansas State. 

“I still lose sleep about letting this program fall a little bit,” Elliott said. “So there is a ton of urgency on our end to keep trying to win games and play at a high level.”

At the collegiate level, a head coach is responsible for much more than X’s and O’s. In addition to coaching his team on the court, Elliott serves as the de facto CEO for Texas volleyball, overseeing each facet of the Texas program. 

“Jerritt does a great job giving us the space to do what we do,” assistant coach Erik Sullivan said. “He has a hand in every part of the program, but he’s always open to new thoughts and new ideas.”

Although Elliott takes pride in being a strong tactical coach, he truly hangs his hat in the recruiting field. Since arriving in Austin in the spring of 2001, Elliott has compiled 13 nationally ranked recruiting classes, seven of which ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the nation. 

“He’s a great recruiter,” senior libero Kat Brooks said. “When I came on my visit, he was a big reason I chose Texas. He makes all of his players feel comfortable and at home, which is really important.”

As head coach, Elliott stresses daily routines. His players follow a specific daily regimen, forcing them to concentrate on the fundamentals both on and off the court. These routines have become critical to the program, and the Longhorns rely on them come tournament time, when the pressure builds and players lose themselves in the moment. 

“The tournament is all about routines and schedules,” junior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu said. “It helps to know what’s expected of us and what we need to do every day.”

One national championship, six Final Four appearances and seven Big 12 titles place Elliott as one of the top coaches in Texas history. But despite these accolades, Elliott isn’t satisfied. 

“I want to keep building this program,” Elliott said. “I want to keep putting Final Four runs together, and I want to keep putting ourselves in position to win some more national titles. That’s what motivates me.”

Elliott and the Longhorns face unranked Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, on Wednesday at 6 p.m.