No. 1 Texas volleyball dominates Rice in 5th sweep of the season

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

The Longhorns continue to impress.

In a sold-out Tudor Fieldhouse, the Longhorns topped the Owls in a commanding sweep Wednesday, marking the first time Texas beat Rice since 2015. Rice hoped to stun No. 1 Texas for a third straight year but was ultimately dominated at the service line. 

While Texas played close to their ceiling with 40 kills and seven blocks, the Owls were shut down on offense, only posting a hitting percentage of .042. The astounding amount of attack errors and net infractions contributed greatly to the loss, as flickers of offensive brilliance were overshadowed by simple mistakes and the inability to gain momentum.

Rice couldn’t defend against the serve either. The Longhorns recorded seven service aces in the match, sending the Owls into frantic defense and reactive gameplay.

Much of Texas’ success can be attributed to sophomore outside hitter Melanie Parra. Following a tough game in hostile A&M territory last Friday, Parra rebounded and dominated from the back versus the Owls. After a masterful kill by middle blocker Brionne Butler in the second set, Parra served for the Longhorns and sunk an ace deep in the right corner of Rice’s court. 

Parra’s serving expertise was not exasperated by the ace. Junior middle blocker Molly Phillips and Parra went on a five-point scoring run late in the second set to steamroll Rice 25-14, where Parra recorded three more aces and attention from the spectators. 

Every Longhorn played with a chip on their shoulder. Butler was nothing short of a brick wall for Texas, flaunting two blocks, eight kills and a hitting percentage of .636. Captain Logan Eggleston was dominant from both the front and back row, recording 13 kills and a handful of meticulously placed serves to kindle offensive momentum.

An unsung hero of the Texas Volleyball Team was libero Nalani Iosia, who proved to be kryptonite against Rice outside hitter Nicole Lennon. Iosia was impressive against Lennon’s flashy offense, posting 16 digs and a miraculous one-handed save to set Texas up for a Skylar Fields kill while Rice was out of formation.

Texas finished the non-conference slate with a perfect 9-0 record, taking down rivals A&M and Rice and a pair of ranked teams in Minnesota and Stanford. 

The Longhorns also flaunted their volleyball prowess, maintaining their No. 1 rank going into the first Big 12 game of the season against West Virginia on Sept. 30.