Longhorns win first match as No.1

Clark Dalton

What a week it’s been for the Texas volleyball team.

After defeating the former No. 1 team in the country in straight sets last Wednesday against Baylor and following that up with another sweep on the road against Kansas, the Longhorns took over as the No. 1 team in the AVCA rankings.

The team had several reasons to be confident heading into the midweek match against Texas Tech. Texas was undefeated in Big 12 play heading into the second half of conference play, while Tech has struggled to stay afloat with a record of 4-4s. Given that the Longhorns had only dropped a single set since mid-September, it appeared that the team would bring the pain against Tech.

The Red Raiders put up a good fight in the first set, using a tight defensive strategy to limit the Longhorns’ effectiveness on offense. Head coach Jerritt Elliott called a timeout midway through the set to game plan with his team.

The timeout worked, as Texas responded on the first point out on a kill executed by senior outside hitter Micaya White. The team was able to tie the game at 15 points and held on for the first set victory.

The set was an embodiment of the efficient offensive play that the Longhorns have touted all season long. The team had to perform at the highest level against Baylor, and that level of play seemed to have carried over into the first set.

The second set started with a forceful run by the Red Raiders led by junior middle blocker Allison White. Allison helped provide stability to a team fighting to find a rhythm. A quick five-point start to the set gave Tech the advantage.

However, the mid-set comeback has been a staple for Texas, and that was no different in the second set. The experience and talent on the team combined with a penchant for resilient play allowed the team to fight back. The combined effort of Micaya and sophomore setter Jhenna Gabriel helped propel the team forward.

The defensive strategy of the Red Raiders continued to cause the Longhorns issues. Coupled with a strong serving performance by sophomore setter Alex Kirby, Tech was able to wrestle back the lead. Texas was being forced to prove why they are the No. 1 team in the country.

Propelled by sophomore middle blocker Brionne Butler’s two blocks and a sophomore outside hitter Logan Eggleston kill, the Longhorns regained the lead and would pull off another set victory. The team was one set away from an eighth consecutive sweep over a Big 12 opponent.

In the final set, the Longhorns jumped out with six straight points, eager to finish off the match. Tech continued to frustrate on defense, continually coming back from deficits and challenging Texas to put them away. The team was happy to oblige.

They would win the third set, earning their eighth straight sweep and their tenth straight victory. After losing to an unranked Rice team in five sets, the team has been proving every week just how talented they really are.

Improving to a 15-2 record with the win, the Longhorns will next face West Virginia on Sunday at home.