Longhorns prepare to take on Horned Frogs at home

Wills Layton

It feels good to be home.

After having traveled for a majority of the season, the Longhorn volleyball team is in the midst of a four-game staycation in Austin. After beating Oklahoma on Saturday, 3-0, the Longhorns hope to follow up the strong performance with another against TCU
on Wednesday.

While Texas is sitting at 14–4 on the season, and a record of 8–3 away from home, the second half of the Big 12 schedule boasts its
own challenges.

“The second round of Big 12 is where a lot of teams can lose focus and get worn down,” middle blocker Morgan Johnson said. “I think this stretch is important, because this is where you show your resiliency and is a huge opportunity for us to have this stretch at home. Teams that play on the road have it super hard and it wears down on them.”

Texas will play four of its final six games at home which is a nice change of pace from what the narrative has been this season. Home-court advantage has worked in the Longhorns’ favor so far, as the team has only lost one game in Austin.

Additionally, the home games give the student athletes more time to study and rest without the struggles of heavy traveling. While best known for representing Texas on the court, the athletes worry about school just as much as the rest of the student population.

“I have pretty hard classes this semester so it’s been a little bit tougher,” Johnson said. “But we have really good resources here. We have access to academic counselors whenever we need help, (so) we always have someone we can go to.”

In addition to the school work, the season has a way of wearing down the players with constant games and practices. It’s been up to the coaches on how to best deal with the in-season fatigue, which is
critical for the young squad.

“Our coaches do a really good job of trying to find us off days and trying to make practices shorter,” Johnson said. “They know when we’re tired or when we need a break. They always try to find little ways to help us recover.”

The Longhorns have shown signs of fatigue at times, but there is still work to be done before the postseason begins. While the students worry about midterms, they also have to focus on improving before the games evolve into win-or-go-home scenarios.

With a team that boasts several freshmen as starters, the work down the stretch this season is going to be crucial for the development of the team heading into November.

“We’re such a young team and have been chasing so many different skill sets,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “Our defense, our defensive touches, our blocking, our service in game trying to keep out kids out of the net. I think we’ve been managing our game at a high level.”

The Longhorns face off against the Horned Frogs at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Gregory Gymnasium.