Texas volleyball finalizes non-conference play against Wisconsin

Steve Helwick

After sweeping a ranked team in No. 16 Texas A&M on Wednesday, Texas battles another formidable opponent this weekend.

The No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers travel to Austin for a showdown against the No. 2 Longhorns on Sunday after taking on the Aggies in College Station on Friday night.

“I know that [Wisconsin is] really good,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “They come from a good conference, they’ve got a very good setter and we’ll be ready to go.”

In last week’s AVCA Coaches’ poll, Wisconsin held the No. 2 spot in the nation. But the Badgers plunged in the rankings after a 3–2 loss to North Carolina in Chapel Hill last Friday.

Texas serves as Wisconsin’s highest-ranked opponent so far this year. The Badgers’ current résumé includes a sweep over No. 10 San Diego and a 3–1 victory over No. 15 Hawaii.

Senior setter Lauren Carlini, a three-time All-Big 10 honoree, highlights an experienced Wisconsin roster. Carlini leads the team with 279 assists — 11.62 per game — this season. 

“They’re known for their passing and their defense, so it should be a lot more of a defensive game,” Elliott said. “It’s a good opportunity to get back and get better.”

The Longhorns enter the contest riding a seven-game win streak. Texas’ lone loss came Aug. 27 against No. 1 Nebraska, 3–0. At No. 6, Wisconsin is the highest-ranked opponent Texas has faced since the defeat.

Freshman outside hitter Micaya White and senior setter Chloe Collins have engineered the Longhorns’ success since the Nebraska loss. 

Collins’ teammates have raved about her passing — she’s set up the Longhorns for 340 kills — while White is coming off two straight Big 12 Freshman of the Week awards. White also leads the Longhorns in kills with 121 on the season. 

Despite the duo’s standout play, they still credit their teammates — especially the freshmen — for the Longhorns’ dominance in non-conference play.

“Our freshmen have done really well just coming in right off the bat,” Collins said. “They’re steady and really consistent, and that’s part of why they’ve gelled so well with our team this year.”

Sunday’s matchup at Gregory Gym marks the end of each team’s non-conference schedule. At 8–1 before Big 12 play, Texas hopes to keep its momentum in gear before Tuesday’s conference matchup with West Virginia.

“Every match we’re preparing to compete and get better going into Big 12,” Collins said. “We want to have the chemistry going, build trust within the team and just have some fire and excitement.”