Last year when the Iowa State Cyclones came to Austin, they were swept out of town by the Texas Volleyball team. This year, that same team would not return to Ames, Iowa without putting up a fight.
Both teams came into the game coming off of strong starts to the season. Iowa State had won seven straight matches, the most recent of which over the in-state rival Iowa Hawkeyes. Texas most recently swept longtime rival Texas A&M to earn its sixth win of the campaign. Neither team wanted to lose its first Big 12 game of the season.
“They really picked it up when things weren’t going well,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It was a gritty win from a statistical standpoint.”
Texas charged out of the gate, forcing Iowa State into several errors. The Cyclones’ mishaps would turn into an 11-3 lead behind a pair of kills from freshman middle blocker Molly Phillips and senior outside hitter Micaya White.
The Longhorns decided the best way to keep the competitive juices flowing was by subbing in sophomore Brionne Butler. The sophomore middle blocker wasted no time during her outing, registering a kill right away after missing the first three weeks with a lower extremity injury.
“Right now it’s just a matter of getting her comfortable,” Elliott said “I wasn’t expecting that in game one, but we were up early an I would like to use (Butler) more in late game situations.”
Senior outside hitter Josie Herbst carried the Cyclones with five kills during the set, which helped cut the deficit to 23-18 near the end of the first set. However, the Longhorns would close the set out to win 25-18.
Iowa State quickly regained their composure in the second set. They challenged Texas from the onset, as Herbst and freshman outside hitter Annie Hatch combined for three kills to an early 4-3 lead.
Iowa State continued to roll during the set, taking a five point lead at 15-10 and never looking back. The spike in aggressive offense from the Cyclones made the difference, as they would win the set 25-18.
The Cyclones rode their momentum to a 4-0 lead in the following set. Texas was ready to respond as freshman Skylar Fields stepped up grabbing two kills to help the team tie the match at 6-6.
The match would continue to go back and forth between the two teams, as the set remained tied at 15 points a piece. After a coach’s challenge went the Longhorns way, they never looked back, taking the third set 25-19. Fields would clinch the set for Texas with a kill.
“I knew we needed some energy, and Jhenna just kept giving me the ball,” Fields said.
The fourth and final set started much like the previous two, with the Cyclones jumping out to an early lead at 8-4 . Around that time, sophomore Logan Eggleston had to leave the game due to injury. The team would rally around their fallen teammate.
For the second time in the match, the set was tied at 15 points a piece. Both teams were doing their best to earn an important conference win. The tide began to turn after that point, with the Longhorn offense proving too much for the Cyclone defense. Texas won the set 25-22, finishing the match on a kill by White.
The Longhorns collected their seventh win of the season and picked up a very important first win in Big 12 play. The team will next play Texas Tech at home on Saturday.