After sharing the Big 12 title with Baylor last season, the No. 1 Texas volleyball team will have it all to itself again after a victory over No. 13 West Virginia on Friday night.
The win clinched the 12th conference title for Texas since 2007 and grants the Longhorns an automatic bid for this season’s 48-team NCAA tournament, which is scheduled to take place in April.
After dropping the first set to West Virginia on Thursday, the Longhorns looked as dominant as they have all season, sweeping the Mountaineers 25-15, 25-8, 25-20.
Sophomore opposite hitter Skylar Fields led the Longhorns with 14 kills on the night. Junior outside hitter Logan Eggleston notched nine kills, nine digs and two service aces in her first match of the season without double-digit kills, and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Asjia O’Neal added eight kills and five blocks for Texas.
The first set began with some back-and-forth action, but a 4-0 scoring run put the Longhorns up 12-8, and they didn’t look back from there. Texas found easy kills all over the court, with sophomore middle blocker Molly Phillips finishing off the Mountaineers with her fourth kill of the set to earn the 25-15 opening set victory.
Texas then thoroughly dominated the second set 25-8, playing its best volleyball of the series against West Virginia. The Mountaineers called a timeout down 18-8, but they still didn’t win a single point the rest of the set. West Virginia found itself scrambling all over the court trying to defend against Texas’ attacks.
Attack errors were a key issue for the Mountaineers for the second night in a row. The 26 errors gifted to Texas made it hard for the Mountaineers to maintain any momentum.
West Virginia seemed to find some new life at the start of the third set, however, playing with much more aggression and trading points with Texas. The teams were tied 10-10 before Texas began to pull away again, but only for a moment. West Virginia kept fighting, refusing to fold as they did in the prior two sets. A hard-fought point, which featured multiple 50-50 balls at the net, went in Texas’ favor. It gave the team a 20-17 advantage and the final momentum boost it needed to finish off the match.
The Longhorns will make the nearly 1,400-mile journey back to Austin from Morgantown, West Virginia, for Thanksgiving before heading back out on the road to wrap up Big 12 play with two matches against TCU on Nov. 28 and 29.
The NCAA tournament, which usually takes place in the fall, was postponed to the spring and reduced from a field of 64 teams to 48 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It remains unclear whether Texas will be able to play any nonconference matches between the completion of Big 12 play after Thanksgiving and the start of the tournament in April.