No 1. Volleyball improves to 5-0 after sweeping UC Davis

Tori Garcia, Sports Reporter

Facing UC Davis for the first time since 1976, the Texas volleyball team defeated the Mustangs in three sets on Wednesday at Gregory Gymnasium, continuing their undefeated season.  

“We love playing in Greg,” junior opposite hitter Molly Phillips said. “We know it’s a Wednesday game, and it’s always hard to get a lot of people to (come), but there were tons of fans here, which is really exciting.” 

The Longhorns controlled the first set straight from the beginning, with an opening service error from UC Davis. With some miscommunication on the Mustangs’ side of the court, sophomore outside hitter Melanie Parra landed several early kills with assistance from senior libero Zoe Fleck, sophomore libero Keonilei Akana and redshirt senior setter Jenna Ewert, giving the Longhorns an early lead. 

“I think we had to find our way a little bit looking at some different lineups, so I think we were a little uncomfortable at times,” associate head coach Erik Sullivan said. “It was a little bit about us finding our rhythm and getting comfortable with those players on the court.” 

Sullivan stood in for head coach Jerritt Elliott, who missed Wednesday’s game due to COVID-19 protocols. 

Service errors were costly for the Mustangs, allowing Texas some easy points. However, at 18-16 with Texas in the lead, the Longhorns called a timeout after consecutive points from UC Davis to regroup. Parra’s dominance at the net, leading the Longhorns with eight kills in the set, was enough to allow Texas to take set one 25-18.   

The Longhorns came out even better at the start of the second set. A mix between senior libero Zoe Fleck’s dominant defensive skills, along with out-of-rhythm play from UC Davis, helped Texas build a lead on UC Davis early on. However, the Mustangs’ excellent blocking toward the middle of the set brought them within two points at 15-13. The blocking partnership between Kayla Caffey, redshirt senior middle blocker, and Phillips was the final factor in Texas taking the second set 25-19.

The Mustangs’ first lead of the match was short lived with a kill from Parra in the third set.  Commanding from the service line, Parra led Texas to a 10-point, mid-set lead of 15-5. With Fleck at the service line and a finishing kill from Phillips, the Longhorns took set three and the match at 25-9.  

With the win, the Longhorns improved to 5-0 on the season. Texas’ next shot at remaining unblemished comes on Friday when the Longhorns face Denver at Gregory Gym.

“These games at the beginning are really important, but they are not our end goal,” Phillips said.  “We want to go out every single game and work on little things we need to get better at, and everytime we go out it is a huge opportunity.”