No. 1 volleyball drops first set, outlasts Houston 3-1 to remain undefeated

Tori Garcia, Sports Reporter

For the first time since 2010, the No. 1 Texas volleyball team faced the Houston Cougars in Gregory Gym on Thursday, taking the match in four sets.  

After dropping the first set to the Cougars, Texas displayed its competitive resilience throughout the match, taking the next three consecutive sets and improving its overall record to 7-0. Senior outside hitter Logan Eggleston proved her dominance once more at the net with 20 kills on the night.

Texas faced an eye-opening test in the first set. The Cougars were in complete rhythm at a four-point lead when Texas was forced to call a timeout to regroup. However, the Longhorns still appeared shaky at the net with miscommunication and trouble on the return. Only scoring one point since the timeout, the Cougars ran the scoreboard to an 11-3 lead until Texas was forced to call another timeout.  

A mid-set substitution of sophomore outside hitter Melanie Parra for freshman libero Emma Halter seemed to allow both Texas players and fans to gain some momentum. However, tips from the Cougars and fakes over the net completely threw the Longhorns off, and the Cougars took the first set 25-17.     

Set two for the Longhorns was much more evenly matched and Texas displayed its competitive side from the start. Behind by a five-point deficit, the Cougars were forced to take their first timeout of the match. Asjia O’Neal, redshirt senior middle blocker, set the tone in the second set with her dominance at the service line. 

After the Longhorns increased their lead to 10 points, the Cougars took their second timeout of the night hoping to muster up momentum to get back in the set. The Cougars had some trouble on the service return throughout the match which allowed Texas to score some easy points. Eggleston ended the second set with three kills, but her blocking dominance at the net was key in Texas taking the second set 25-16.

With the set count tied up, the Cougars stayed within a four-point deficit in set three until defense and blocking issues began to pile up to the point where a timeout needed to be called by Houston. The Cougars simply could not find their rhythm. Kill after kill, the Longhorns displayed their domination throughout the set en route to an easy victory at 25-12, with Eggleston’s 13th kill of the night being the final blow.  

The Cougars gained back some of their lost momentum at the start of the fourth set. Displaying their competitive energy once more, Houston’s blocking was a major factor in taking its first lead since the beginning of the second set.  A timeout was taken by Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott, allowing the Longhorns to regroup. Afterwards, Texas eventually tied the set and took the lead.

From there, the set was neck and neck. At 23-22, Texas nursed a one-point lead, and that ended up being the closest the Cougars got the rest of the way. A kill from Parra brought up match point and forced a final Houston timeout, and with O’Neal at the service line and a return error from Houston, the Longhorns took set four at 25-22 and clutched the match. 

The No. 1 Longhorns will return to Gregory Gym on Friday at 7 p.m. to face High Point in hopes of extending their undefeated 7-0 record with another strong showing at home.