No. 1 Texas volleyball grapples for 3-1 win over No. 10 Minnesota

Hannah Williford

Texas showed teeth this Wednesday in a battle against No. 10 Minnesota, but pulled out a win by the fourth set with the leadership of opposite hitter Skylar Fields and outside hitter Logan Eggleston at the Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.

For the first time of the season, Texas found themselves working from behind. In the first set, Texas went down by at least seven points twice. The team worked their way out of a 7-14 deficit, attempting to slowly close the gap to 13-15.

But Minnesota pulled ahead once again to a 22-16 lead, forcing Texas to face a long road to victory. The Gophers targeted sophomore Melanie Parra on the back line, who has started to see an increase in playing time this season, but is the newest addition to the Longhorn team.

However, Parra’s teammates didn’t let her down. Jhenna Gabriel seemed to fill every empty space on the floor. With the Longhorns down 17-23, Gabriel dove to the floor to save a point, then hopped back to her feet to complete the play, tapping the ball right over the net in a rare opportunity for a kill for the setter. 

The effort from Gabriel was all the team needed. 

Middle blocker Brionne Butler took the hint for the comeback, with two block assists and a kill, working Texas all the way up to just a one point deficit, 22-23. After a back and forth to bring Texas and Minnesota to 24-24, Parra was up for service. One of the strongest servers on the team, Parra sent the ball over the net for an ace, reminding fans of her potential. The Longhorns finished off the set, squeaking out a 26-24 win.

The Longhorns seemed to settle into their first game away from home as they entered the second set, never falling behind the Gophers. However, Minnesota kept the game alive, tying it up 21-21 before the Longhorns were able to pull away for a win, helped by two kills from middle blocker Molly Phillips.

Texas started to struggle again in the third set, going down 12-18. This time, the team wasn’t able to make their way back, ceding their first set of the year. 

Big 12 Conference Player of the Year Logan Eggleston faced off against Big Ten Player of the Year Stephanie Samedy, climbing her way to 17 kills in the match. But Eggleston was far from the only play-maker on the court, with Molly Phillips racking up 13 kills in the match. 

Skylar Fields hit the ground hard in the middle of the fourth set with what seemed to be an ankle injury. But the opposite hitter showed grit on the court, taking hit after hit and diving to the ground just one play after going down with a twisted ankle. She finished out the game with 14 kills, bringing the Longhorns to a 25-22 win in the fourth set, and their third victory of the season.