Texas volleyball beats Stanford for first time since 2013 in Sunday sweep

Hannah Williford

Texas volleyball beat out Stanford in a sweep, marking the first time the Longhorns have won against the Cardinals since 2013.

The energy in Gregory Gymnasium was palpable as the No. 1 Longhorns took the court on Sunday. Players danced on the sidelines as the game began, and the crowd rose to their feet point after point as Texas avenged five straight losses to the Cardinals.

“I’ve honestly been so excited for this match because these players have gone through so much and sacrificed a lot and done such a great job,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “This is why they came here, to play in front of this crowd and play these types of matches.”

But the Longhorns found themselves under pressure in the first set with No. 20 Stanford up five points throughout the middle of the set. Three players on the Stanford team racked up at least four kills in the first set, forcing the Texas back row into a frenzy of frustration trying to return the ball. 

“(Stanford) played extremely well in game one,” Elliott said. “They were setting out a really high clip … (I was) really proud of our team with the mentality that they had and we didn’t panic, and we just kind of stayed the course.”

By the end of the first set, Texas found offensive firepower: Logan Eggleston and Skylar Fields both got three kills to help bring the set out of a 21-21 tie. Middle blocker Asjia O’Neal had four kills and brought the set home for Texas with a service ace. 

“There’s been so many hours in the gym, doing drills that simulate being down and coming back,” Eggleston said. “It’s just really good for the overall mental state of the teams to know that we can come back even when it’s amazing play on the other side of the net.”

The Longhorns created a more comfortable lead of around six points early in the second set. Texas won 25-16, bringing dancing back to the sidelines. In the third set, Texas pulled ahead early once again and hung onto their lead, ending 25-23. 

O’Neal continued to play strong throughout the match, ending with three blocks, four service aces and seven kills. She said the energy from the home crowd helped her and the team.

“It was really nice to be back and I think our team really feeds off energy so that was super important for us,” O’Neal said. “I think we all came out super fired up.”

The game marked the Longhorn’s fourth win of the season, and second against a ranked opponent after beating No. 10 Minnesota on Wednesday. Eggleston said as the season progresses, the Longhorns are now shifting their focus to technique, such as improving serves and increasing their set tempos.

“We were just focusing on getting in the gym and winning and just kind of getting back in the groove of things,” Eggleston said. “But I think now we’re going back, watching film and really starting to see the little things we’re not doing well, and so we go in the gym and practice every single day and fix those.”