Longhorns sweep Wildcats for fourth straight Big 12 win

Clark Dalton

he Longhorn volleyball team has dominated Big 12 play for the past decade, having won the conference eight times in the past 10 years and finishing second in the years they did not win. After a week of rest, Texas was ready to resume their strong performance with Big 12 teams against the Kansas State Wildcats.

The Longhorns were 9–2 heading into Manhattan looking for an easy win against a Kansas State team that was sputtering at 6–9 overall.

However, the Wildcats didn’t play like it early on. Texas was surprised by an intense offensive effort. This strong performance caused trouble for Texas, leading to a tight first set that was tied at 20-20 at one point. Despite the offensive onslaught of the Wildcats, Texas persisted.

Texas fought off several one-point leads before clinching the set with back-to-back kills from sophomore middle blocker Brionne Butler and senior outside hitter Micaya White. The Longhorns escaped with a 32-30 first set victory.

The second set went very differently. Texas came out at a quick pace early, which forced the Wildcats into multiple errors. Freshman Asjia O’Neal capitalized on one such mistake, ripping a kill that put Texas up 10-6.

Even though the energy in the Ahearn Field House seemed to be leaning toward Texas, a shift halfway through the set put the momentum in the hands of Kansas State, which cut the lead down to one.

The match stood at a 16-15 margin, and it was unclear which team would rise. As they have so often in the past decade, the Longhorns rose to the occasion. The Longhorns went on a 9-2 run that sealed the second set and put the Longhorns closer to another sweep in conference play.

The third set opened with a service error from Kansas State. The team would quickly rebound from its early mistake, collecting several kills, three of which came from freshman outside hitter Anna Dixon.

Dixon would record consecutive attack errors before a Micaya White kill tied the set. Dixon would not be stopped and continued to pester Texas, eventually giving the lead back to Kansas State at 6-5.

The Wildcats started to gain more confidence after taking a 9-6 lead behind a service error, an attack error and a redshirt junior middle blocker Peyton Williams kill. However, the Longhorns would respond with strength, taking the momentum back from the Wildcats.

Sophomore outside hitter Logan Eggleston knocked down a kill, followed by an O’Neal service ace, an attack error and another Eggleston kill. The Wildcats tied it up at 12 points apiece before a service error, an Eggleston service ace, and a freshman middle blocker Molly Phillips kill dismantled the lead for good.

Kansas State made one more attempt to get back into the match behind a kill by Dixon, which got the team back to within three. However, Texas pulled away behind two more kills from Eggleston, a kill by Phillips, and a service ace by sophomore setter Jhenna Gabriel to finish off the sweep.

Eggleston and Gabriel’s play guided the Horns in the right direction. Gabriel added 35 assists and Eggleston recorded her third double-double of the season.

The Longhorns’ impressive dominance over Big 12 teams continued against the Wildcats, and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The team will get to chance to prove itself once more Saturday in Austin against the Oklahoma Sooners in the volleyball edition of the Red River Rivalry.