No. 1 knocked off by Baylor

Clark Dalton

After an impressive 14 game win streak, Texas lost a five set heartbreaker. The Longhorns came back from being down two, before a 15-9 defeat in the final set.

“We had two or three points get away from us,” said Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott. “We had some opportunities in games 1 and 2 that we didn’t make that made the difference.

The last time Texas faced Baylor, their straight set win propelled the Longhorns to a No. 1 ranking. However, the Bears didn’t crumble quietly and won five straight matches after the loss to Texas.

So, when Texas arrived in Waco, they heard the deafening sound of Baylor’s rowdy crowd — a crowd that seeked revenge.

Both teams played like it was a championship match; the game’s energy swung back and forth in the first set with Baylor taking an early 12-9 lead. But, Texas came roaring back to tie it up at 15.

The Bears crowd grew louder and so did Baylor’s lead. The Bears rattled off three straight points bringing the score to 18-15. Nonetheless, the Longhorns held on. Sophomore middle blocker Brionne Butler grabbed an overhead kill to put them within one. Baylor then committed another error that tied the match at 19.

The score seesawed until Baylor junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley pushed the lead to 22-24. Texas couldn’t stop Pressley who delivered match point.

Things went according to plan for Baylor at the beginning of the second set as they started with a three-point lead. Despite the noise, Texas buckled down regaining their flow.

Senior outside hitter Micaya White and Butler landed a pair of kills. Freshman middle blocker Asjia O’Neal and freshman opposite hitter Skylar Fields, teamed up for a double block  earning the lead 4-3.

O’Neal and Fields  sparked a 7-5 Texas run. After, Texas went up 12-8, Baylor went on a 7-4 run. Now, Texas clung to a one-point lead.

Baylor middle blocker Shelly Stafford tied the game at 16. Now, the match was starting to drift. The back and forth affair ceased when Baylor went up two. Texas called another timeout. 

It almost worked, Texas chiseled the lead to one before White made a service error, the Longhorns fell 25-23.

The Longhorns were only one set from suffering their first loss since September. They responded strongly. Texas rushed to a 5-2 lead, behind kills from White, O’Neal and sophomore outside hitter Logan Eggleston. 

“I thought we showed a lot of resilience,” Elliott said. “They played pretty steady.”

The lead grew to 10-3, but Texas’ cooled down. Baylor pulled within two at 22-20. Nonetheless, Texas regathered and powered to a 25-21 win. 

Texas fired on all cylinders in the fourth set jumping to a 5-2 lead. Once again, Baylor chipped away. Eventually, both teams reached a gridlock at 16. The Longhorns went up two before a 3-0 run. 

The Longhorns hung by a thread and were about to fall off the edge. Yet, they climbed back up racing to a 25-23 victory. It all came down to the fifth set. 

However, Baylor elevated to a new level, as Pressley found her serving groove putting Baylor up four. Molly Phillips disrupted the run with a block. It wasn’t enough Baylor won 15-9.

Texas has two matches left in the Big 12 while Baylor has three. So, it’s likely that both teams will win and tie in the Big 12. Texas may drop in national polls since Baylor was ranked No.3.

“These next games are must wins,” Elliott said.