Younger players perform powerfully despite losses

Leah Vann

It’d be easy for the Longhorns to lose confidence after falling to No. 1 Nebraska during the opening week of the season and dropping another match to No. 6 Wisconsin on Sunday.

But they haven’t.  

“I think we still stand in a really good point,” senior setter Chloe Collins said. “It’s still early in the season for us and we’re still growing as a team and we can learn from this experience. A loss has always been good for us and we’re just going to get back in the gym and work on it.”

Texas’ younger players shined during their non-conference schedule despite the two losses. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Micaya White and freshman middle blocker Orie Agbaji have already racked up big numbers on the court. White currently leads the team with 144 kills and has been instrumental defensively, recording double-digit digs and five total blocks against Wisconsin and five total blocks against Colorado State. 

Head coach Jerritt Elliot describes Agbaji’s hits as “straight fire,” but as a middle blocker, Texas hasn’t been able to get Agbaji many sets. Agbaji makes her impact with blocks instead. She has 20 and White has 19, making them second and third for most blocks behind sophomore middle blocker Morgan Johnson, who has 38. 

“My goal is to be more available for the setter,” Agbaji said. “Playing at the collegiate level is way more fast-paced and a lot more thinking [is] involved. I’ve had a lot of catching up to do.”

While defense has remained a weakness for the Longhorns, freshman liberos Autumn Rounsaville and Claire Hahn have shown a willingness to improve. Hahn recorded seven digs against Wisconsin, while Rounsaville had strong performances against Oregon and Army, recording 11 and 8 total digs, respectively. 

“They’re young right now, but we’re working hard and they’re getting better every day,” junior libero Cat McCoy said. “It’s pretty cool to see.”

The Longhorns face West Virginia in their first conference match 5 p.m. on Tuesday in Morgantown. The Mountaineers have yet to beat a ranked team and bring an 8–4 record to the matchup. 

“We’re really good in certain areas, but we’re young and we’ve got to improve,” Elliot said. “They’re getting a lot more comfortable with what we’re doing.”