Longhorns rally past Kansas State to win Big 12 Opener

Wills Layton

After losing the first set of the match, Texas was in familiar territory.

Having dropped the opening sets in their previous two matches, both of which they ended up losing, the Longhorns had to make sure their next game didn’t turn into their third straight loss.

Texas ended up winning its first match of Big 12 play against Kansas State on Wednesday in five sets (24-26, 25-19, 25-17, 18-25, 19-17).

While the Longhorns struggled at the beginning of the match, the team picked up their performance as the match went on, overcoming a first set loss to win three out of the next four.

“The opener was good,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I think it was good for our freshman to get in here and I felt like some of them were really excited to get in here and play. To get that over within the first match is nice.”

The first set was a nail-biter, and Texas was never able to rip the close set away from Kansas State, losing the set, 26-24.

Though Texas lost the first set, the freshmen stood out once again. Middle blocker Brionne Butler slammed down six kills to lead the team for the set while fellow freshman outside hitter Logan Eggleston was tied for third on the team with three kills.

In the second set, the Longhorns tied things up by asserting their dominance early. The Wildcats fought hard to take command of the match, but Texas was having none of it, and they never allowed the Wildcats to lead or even get close to leading.

The Longhorns would go on to win the set, 25-19, with a complete team effort on full display. The freshmen once again stepped up, and the veteran leadership of the team set the tone.

“It was just our mentality,” Eggleston said. “We had to come together and remember that we’re a really good team and that we need to play for each other and play together. I think we did a great job of that.”

The third set began just as closely as the first one did, but Texas eventually began to pull away. After multiple attempts by the Wildcats to claw back into the game, the Longhorns ended up on the right side of the set, and took it by a score of 25-17.

As Texas became more comfortable in the match, the talent and skill of the team became more and more apparent as the first set began to look like an anomaly. While the score was still close at 25-18, Wildcats, the Longhorns played much better volleyball than they did at the beginning of the match.

In the final set of the match, the Longhorns turned on the jets, resisting every charge by the Wildcats. Texas would end up winning the fifth set by a score of 19-17, giving the conference favorites their first victory of Big 12 play.

With the first win of the Big 12 season locked up, Texas will welcome No. 19 Baylor to Austin for its seventh matchup this season against a ranked opponent.

“I think this gives us a lot of momentum for Baylor,” Eggleston said. “We’re super excited to play them, so this got us even more pumped up for that game.”