Longhorns take down TCU, continue win streak

Steve Helwick

Pink and orange flooded into the doors of Gregory Gym on Wednesday evening. A crowd of 3,227 watched the Longhorns (15-2, Big 12 7-0) take on TCU on Breast Cancer Awareness Night, aiming to avenge last year’s 3-0 defeat to TCU in Fort Worth.

Fueled by the emergence of sophomore middle blocker Morgan Johnson, the Longhorns completed a 3-0 sweep over TCU for their seventh consecutive Big 12 victory.

“It was a big match for Morgan,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I’ve been riding her more than any other player in practice. When she performs like this, she knows that I care for her. We’ve got a lot of confidence in what she can do, and tonight was a big step forward for that.”

Johnson threaded the depths of the TCU defense. She displayed powerful, strategic hitting on kills and blocks down the center of the hardwood, good for a career-high 10 kills and six blocks in the match. Her final kill came on the last play of the contest, capturing another victory for Texas.

Defensively, junior libero Cat McCoy anchored the Longhorns with 19 digs, her second best mark of the season. Facing a potent TCU offense, McCoy put her hussle on display as she dove for anything that landed in her vicinity.

“Cat kept the glue together so we could get Morgan the ball,” Elliott said. “After game one, we challenged her to make sure we would give her the ball, and she responded. It’s good for her confidence-wise and it’s good for our team.”

The Longhorns earned the sweep after trailing early in each of the first two sets. Texas could not claim a lead over the purple and black until a service ace by senior setter Chloe Collins in the first game made it 8-7. Shortly after, a 7-1 Longhorn run boosted the team comfortably ahead of its in-state rival. While the Horned Frogs fought back in the set, a service error gave Texas a 25-23 victory.

“In practice, we’ve been talking about going back to the basics and keeping it simple,” McCoy said. “At the beginning of the year, the defense was all over the place, so we’re trying to dig the ball nice and high.”

The following frame remained close throughout, with no team’s lead eclipsing three points until the set’s final serve. Texas scored eight of the last nine points to conquer the Horned Frogs, 25-21 — many of them on the back of strong play from freshman outside hitter Micaya White.

In the final set, Texas thrived off the previous frame’s momentum to hurdle to a 6-2 lead. The Longhorns led the set wire-to-wire to win 25-17, making their fifth sweep this season and first of
Big 12 play.

“Our conference is getting tougher each year, so all the competition is pretty hard,” McCoy said. “Just getting our first sweep shows that our team chemistry is getting better on and off the court.”

Texas looks to keep its perfect conference record as it faces Texas Tech in Lubbock on Friday. The Red Raiders have a tough task ahead, as the Longhorns have won 31 of their last 32 Big 12 matches.