Longhorns roll past Army to win third straight game

Steve Helwick

Straying an eye away from the ball for even a split second can be dangerous in volleyball. And that was the case for the Army Black Knights on Friday night.

No. 3 Texas swept Army 3-0 at Gregory Gym, showing off its hitting power along the way. The Longhorns improved to 4-1 with the win.

“We brought the energy and urgency that was needed,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said.

Texas exhibited sound fundamentals throughout the contest. The Longhorn defense — which tallied 49 digs — found a rhythm through senior setter Chloe Collins, who consistently set the team up for points. She totaled 40 assists and put the finishing touches on the win, overpowering Army in a struggle at the net for the final point.

“Chloe’s been putting up some really good balls for me,” sophomore outside hitter Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani said. “I’ve been able to drive to it and make contact.”

Texas’ outside hitters dominated net play throughout the match. Bedart-Ghani, freshman Micaya White and senior Paulina Prieto Cerame — all above six feet in height — combined for 39 kills by firing the ball at sharp angles to Army’s side of the court. Oftentimes, the speed of the ball was too much for the Black Knights to handle.

“We’ve got arguably the best pins in the country,” Elliott said. “We can be overwhelming because we can play high. We’ve got great arms, and we’ve got great range.”

A hot start was critical in Texas’ dominant victory in the first set. The Longhorns scored nine of the first 10 points and held multiple double-digit leads in the set. Texas notched four consecutive points to seal the first set 25-15.

“We talked to our captains and the upperclassmen about leading by example and coming out with enthusiasm,” Elliott said. “We did a really good job of that. It’s what happens when your seniors step up and really get going.”

Army played tighter in the second set, only falling three points short of victory, 25-22. The Black Knights responded to a 20-14 deficit with a 7-3 run but was unable to steal a set on the road from Texas.

Similar to the first set, the Black Knights never earned a lead in the final set. Army played from slightly behind throughout the game’s entirety before ultimately falling by seven points, 25-18.

With the victory, Texas has won nine of its 10 sets played at Gregory Gym this fall. The Longhorns continue their four-game homestand Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes at 4 p.m.

“I think we’re really starting to gel,” Bedart-Ghani said. “We’ve just been coming together more and more.”