Texas volleyball tops West Virginia 3-0 in seventh sweep of season

Jordan Mitchell, Sports Reporter

No. 1 Texas volleyball swept West Virginia for the second time this week in its Big 12 conference play debut.

Following a dominant win over the Mountaineers at Gregory Gym on Thursday night, the Longhorns came into Friday’s match with confidence. Texas won the sets 25-16, 25-17 and 25-21, with an authoritative 11 service aces and a .359 hitting percentage.

Senior middle blocker Brionne Butler attributed the big win to Texas’ ability to bully West Virginia from the back line.

“Serving is a big part of the game, and (head coach) Jerritt (Elliott) always comments on our serve and pass game, so we have been really focusing on that over the week,” Butler said. “I believe our serving was really good and kept them out of system, which is definitely a positive.”

Texas’ stellar serving proved to not only be a momentum builder but also a window of opportunity for junior transfer Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, who sunk her first service ace as a Longhorn in the third set. Ka’aha’aina-Torres’ serving attributed to three consecutive points for Texas to extend their lead over the Mountaineers 10-6.

Both Butler and Elliott acknowledged that things have not come easy to Ka’aha’aina-Torres, but that she is doing a great job learning the offense and contributing to the team.

“Well, it’s been hard. She came in really late and had not sat in a long time, so she is just trying to get acclimated to it,” Elliott said. “She brings in a little bit different of a block, so tonight we just tried to get her a little more comfortable in the offense.”

Most of the intense action of the game came late in the third set, whenWest Virginia prevented three Texas set points. Following a 3-0 scoring run kindled by two Asjia O’Neal kills, a Logan Eggleston service error gave the Mountaineers a small burst of momentum, despite the deafening Texas crowd.

West Virginia’s Adrian Ell sunk a meticulously placed kill to end a long rally between the two teams. The Longhorns were diving all over the court, finding themselves out of formation and fighting to keep the ball in the air.

The Mountaineers 3-0 run ended as quickly as it started, with a Skylar Fields kill to end the match and advance the Longhorns 11–0 for the season.

Head coach Jerritt Elliott saw drastic technical improvement in the back-to-back conference matchups against the Mountaineers and acknowledges the clean gameplay in building offensive momentum.

“With practicing, we’ve been doing a little bit more out of system drills and trying to get them to be better down on the ball and learn to score from different positions,” Elliott said. “The game gets a lot more out of system as it goes, and we have been training that. I think Skylar (Fields’) game is really starting to take off from here.”

Texas was able to control all aspects of the game. Offensively, Fields contributed 15 kills to the Longhorns’ 40 total kills, while seven players recorded service aces. Libero Nalani Iosia and opposite hitter Logan Eggleston found themselves diving all over the court, recording 18 and 10 digs, respectively.

The Longhorns go on the road next week to Lawrence, Kansas, to play the Jayhawks in a similar back-to-back afternoon games next Saturday and Sunday.

“I think these two wins were a really good start to conference (play),” Butler said. I feel like (the wins) are really good to propel us forward.”