Texas prepares for final road match of the season

Steve Helwick

The Longhorns hit the road to play Iowa State this weekend in Ames, Iowa. Texas hopes the next time it has to travel will be further down the line in the middle of a lengthy tournament run. 

Last year, the Longhorns traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, to take on the Sooners in the final week of the regular season. They didn’t venture away from Austin again until they played in the NCAA Championships in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Now, Texas hopes to earn another long home stand through the postseason. 

“To have the next four matches after Iowa State at home is awesome, especially since we potentially have the chance to host our regional here,” senior setter Chloe Collins said.

Earlier this year, the Cyclones tested the Longhorns in Austin. Texas led 2–0, but Iowa State sparked an impressive comeback to send the match to a fifth set. The Longhorns ultimately regrouped by the final set, claiming a 15-10 victory to narrowly escape their in-conference opponent.

The match served as a turning point in Iowa State’s season. After falling to 8–8 with the loss, the Cyclones have charged through Big 12 play, winning seven of their last eight. Iowa State has swept four teams in this timespan, emerging victorious in Ames three out of four contests.

But Texas owns the series, winning seven straight against the Cyclones, dating back to 2013.

Texas has recouped from a tough loss at Kansas in late October to win two straight. On Wednesday night, the Longhorns took advantage of their home court to sweep Baylor in Gregory Gym.

“I think we’re definitely accepting of the challenges we’ve faced this year,” Collins said. “[We’re] not letting it get to it mentally at a team.”

Collins proved crucial in sweeping the Bears. Her 33 assists, eight digs and a season-high three kills helped edge the Longhorns over Baylor in the first two sets. In the final set, Texas fired out to a 25-16 victory paved by the team’s 13-3 block advantage in the match.

“We’re just getting back into practice and just building off of what we’re capable of doing,” Collins said. “Coming off the sweep is just fun.”

Texas looks to retain its momentum from the sweep to earn its final road victory. The team also hopes to work out its kinks before the postseason.

“Our defense continues to improve,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “There’s some things we can definitely work on. We need to work on non-setter setting and getting some better swings for our pins.”

Texas and Iowa State begin play at 4 p.m. Saturday in Ames, Iowa.