Kentucky transfer Madisen Skinner quickly assimilates in first season at Texas

Katie Borchetta, Sports Reporter

Texas volleyball is a completely different team from last season after adding 11 new players in the offseason, including sophomore outside hitter Madisen Skinner. The Kentucky transfer needed little time to gel with her new team, evidenced in her being named a team captain by head coach Jerritt Elliott despite it being her first year with the Longhorns.

Skinner brought with her a wealth of experience from her time at Kentucky. She played outside hitter for the Wildcats and recorded a season-high 19 kills as a true freshman in the national championship game against Texas in 2021, shutting down the Longhorns’ best shot at claiming their first national title since 2012.

Skinner was a two-time AVCA Honorable Mention All-American and a two-time All-SEC selection during her time in Lexington. Last year, her 3.78 kills per set led the Wildcats, but in the offseason she traded Kentucky blue for burnt orange, coming back to her home state in the process.

Skinner, originally from Katy, Texas, not only brought her on-court experience with her to Texas, but her leadership abilities as well. Elliott selected Skinner along with other upperclassmen, including senior outside hitter Logan Eggleston, to be this season’s captains.

“People can talk about who they are as people, but their character really shows over a period of time, and she has been a great communicator,” Elliott said. “She has been great with her teammates … and she makes people around her better. We have the utmost respect for her.”

The Longhorns have gotten off to a blistering 4–0 start with Skinner’s help. In the Longhorns’ four wins over No. 7 Ohio State, No. 4 Minnesota and No. 12 Stanford, they’ve only dropped two sets. In the two games against the Buckeyes — Skinner’s first action as a Longhorn — she recorded 26 kills at a .351 average hitting percentage. Skinner currently sits second on the team with 43 kills and 3.07 kills per set, trailing only Eggleston in those categories.

She’s also helped the Longhorns move up from No. 2 to No. 1 in the AVCA coaches poll, needing just one week to pass preseason-No. 1 Nebraska. Skinner is grateful for her newly appointed role and for how she’s been able to fit in so quickly in Austin.

“I’m thankful that Jerritt trusts me enough to put me in a position to … lead along with Logan and all the upperclassmen,” Skinner said. “I’ve been super intentional about my relationship with the girls, building that trust, building that connection and knowing that I’ll have their backs no matter what.”

Volleyball runs in Skinner’s family, and while Madisen has made a name for herself already, her sister also helped make the Skinner name noteworthy. Avery Skinner was an All-American volleyball talent who played outside middle for Kentucky from 2017-20 before transferring to Baylor for her senior season in 2021. In addition, her father Brian played in the NBA for 14 seasons, including five with the Los Angeles Clippers, after being a three-time all-conference selection at Baylor. 

With her impressive Kentucky career and her family’s athletic background, Madisen is used to pressure. Coming over to Texas in the hopes of ending the program’s decade-long national championship drought is just the next challenge for Skinner. 

“I feel like there’s some expectation coming in as a transfer,” Skinner said. “People want me to perform a certain way, but I love the pressure.”