Longhorns prepare for revenge match against BYU

Clark Dalton

This Friday, the energy for Texas Volleyball will be through the roof when the Longhorns arrive in Wichita, Kansas, to take on the BYU Cougars in the first of two games this weekend. 

Last year, the Longhorns fell in the regional final against BYU, a loss that prevented Texas from earning a Final Four trip. Both teams are strong once again, and this weekend will provide another top-25 matchup.

For Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott, it’s been a matter of slowly building. 

“Nothing defines who we are and what we’re going to by the end of the season,” Elliott said after the win against Minnesota. “Right now, everything is just a
résumé builder.”

Texas suffered its first loss Sunday against Stanford in a five-set thriller. Although the loss doesn’t sit well, the Cardinal is the defending national champion, so it’s a good sign for Texas that they can take them the distance on
the road. 

According to Elliott, the main focus for the Longhorns in the early goings is on how they can improve defensively.

“We need to focus on
being a much better defensive team,” Elliott said in a press conference on Sept. 26. “Right now we have freshman Asjia O’Neal, who’s phenomenal and can dominate, but she’s still young and learning the flow of the game. We also have freshman Molly Phillips in that area who’s done a great job.”

Phillips and O’Neal have gained a tremendous amount of confidence so far. Phillips was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week after impressive performances last week against Minnesota and Stanford. The middle blocker was at her best against Stanford, totaling a season-best 11 kills at .464 clip, leading the Big 12 that week. 

The Longhorn offense has been moving like a well-oiled machine thanks to senior outside hitter Micaya White and sophomore outside hitter
Logan Eggleston. The pair each totaled 19 kills in the hard-fought loss to Stanford.

“I think Logan and Micaya have made some strides in the backcourt,” Elliott said. “If you have two six-rotation players, that’s great. If you have three, you’re golden.”

If freshman opposite hitter Skylar Fields continues to progress, she could be the golden piece. Fields has been a spark plug, posting the second-best hitting percentage in the Big 12 so far at .520. 

In 2019, the Longhorns look to avenge the regional final loss by exploiting the youth of the Cougars roster. 

BYU lost five seniors from last year’s team, including outside hitter Roni Jones-Perry, who led the team in kills. The Cougars have tried to make up for this production by adding nine
freshmen to the rotation.

Later in the weekend, the Longhorns face Wichita State on its home floor. While the Shockers are just 3–3 this season, the pressure of playing in a true road game is never easy. Yet Elliott knows they are ready.

“There’s pressure every year whether you’re a young or an experienced team,” Elliott said. “We’re going to get everybody’s best shot. To handle it, we have to be
emotionally fresh.”