Texas advances to first Final Four since 2016 after 3-1 win over Nebraska

Maya Martinez

The media frenzy surrounding Monday’s regional final often characterized Texas and Nebraska as a part of the ‘blue bloods’ of collegiate volleyball.

The former Big 12 rivals have seven national championships between them, and the two head coaches — Texas’ Jerritt Elliott and Nebraska’s John Cook — have enjoyed sustained success at their respective programs for over 20 years. In a win-or-go-home game between two of the best programs in the nation, Nebraska will make the short drive home from Omaha, where the entirety of the NCAA Tournament is held, to Lincoln, pondering what could have been.

Texas got their long-awaited vengeance for their loss to the Cornhuskers in the 2015 National Championship and prevailed 3-1 in front of a stunned Nebraskan crowd. The Longhorns won their sets by scores of 25-22, 25-15 and 25-21, while only dropping one set 25-19.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for Nebraska. They’re one of the premier programs in the country and to play here and win on their floor is always special,” Elliott said.

Logan Eggleston, Texas’ highly decorated junior outside hitter and reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, stepped up as a leader for Elliott’s squad. She was the architect of the game, the tone-setter and frankly, the star. Eggleston recorded 18 kills over four sets.

“I committed to Texas because I wanted to play in games like that and make Final Fours, and I’m just so proud that we got there this year,” Eggleston said. “We put in so much work, so it just is such an amazing feeling right now.”

Sophomore opposite hitter Skylar Fields tied Eggleston on the night with 18 kills of her own, and she put the game away with a final slam dunk on match point to take the fourth set 25-21.

“I’m so proud of Skylar (Fields). She’s really picked up these last few games because we really needed her, she showed up and I’m just so proud of the way she’s playing,” Eggleston said.

Eggleston’s work from the service line was not only impressive in terms of aces, of which she had five, but in keeping the Longhorns in the right position to make plays. Eggleston’s serving, along with solid defense by graduate libero Morgan O’Brien, was instrumental to maintaining possession.

“The good thing about this group is that our defense can be pretty good at times and (give) ourselves some opportunities to just get back in the game and stay steady with it,” Elliott said. “We can go on some point runs, and we were able to do that twice and give us some separation there.”

The win propels Texas to their first Final Four appearance since 2016, and Elliott said he had to fight through his own personal doubts on whether or not this day would come again.

“We haven’t made it the last three years, and it’s pretty easy as a coach to start questioning whether you’re ever gonna get back again,” Elliott said. “I just told them how special it is to fight through all this.”

Considering the adversity they faced throughout the season, the team is grateful their hard work has paid off. Now, their eyes are fixated on a championship. After what felt like an eternity waiting for the chance to prove themselves in the NCAA Tournament, Eggleston said the team is playing loose and with confidence.

“I think just the anticipation of getting closer and closer to the tournament just kind of made all of the emotions just kind of ramp up,” Eggleston said. “It’s been such a long season, we’ve been waiting for it forever, and we’re finally here. So we’re just kind of like, ‘Let’s put it all out there, let’s have fun and let’s compete.’”