Iowa State’s defense will challenge Texas’ quest to secure conference title

Claire Cruz

No. 5 Texas reclaimed first place in the Big 12 Conference with a road win over No. 10 Kansas, but it’s not celebrating yet.

With four games left in the season, Texas must stay focused. A road match Saturday against Iowa State will be Texas’ first obstacle in its quest to finish the season strong and stay atop the conference.

“We have to play at a high level, that’s what we’re focusing on,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “That’s what this program is made out of, being able to play at a high level regardless of what’s going on around you.”

The Longhorns swept the Cyclones when the two faced off in Austin. Iowa State’s strong defense kept Texas’ offense out of system at times and forced a tight first set, but Texas made adjustments and pulled away as the match went on.

The Cyclones are coming into this match off a sweep of West Virginia behind a solid offensive outing. Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Conaway and sophomore redshirt middle blocker Samara West are swinging well and also leading a dominant Cyclone block.

“They were able to make some good touches and put some stress on us,” Elliott said about the Cyclone defense. “But when we’re passing, we can open up some holes in their block.”

Sophomore libero Cat McCoy and senior defensive specialist Kat Brooks will be the back row keys to Texas’ offensive performance. A number of Longhorns’ hitters are finding success as the season comes to a close and should continue to do so against Iowa State, but the Longhorns aren’t going to take this game lightly.

“The mindset of ‘let’s take one match at a time’ has given us success,” senior middle blocker Molly McCage said. “Intense focus every practice — every touch resulted in a winning record.”