2022 NCAA Volleyball Tournament preview: Texas clinches No. 1 overall seed

Tori Garcia, General Sports Reporter

When the 2022 NCAA Volleyball Championship bracket was announced on Sunday by the Division I Women’s Volleyball committee, the Longhorns earned the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament.  

2022 marks the second time in program history that Texas has secured the top spot in the NCAA Tournament field. The Longhorns also earned their 13th top-four national seed since 2007, continuing a dominant run under head coach Jerritt Elliott.  

Looking for the program’s first national title since 2012, Elliott was excited to be ranked highly entering the tournament, but he said he understands that the first games of the bracket are fresh starts. However, Elliott doesn’t lack confidence in his team.  

“Having the No.1 seed is an honor that we respect,” Elliott said on Sunday. “We know that we put in a lot of hard work to get to that point, but now this is a whole new season. We’ve got to make sure that we are ready for the first point starting Thursday night. Our bracket is really challenging, but all brackets are challenging, and we’re going to take this one match at a time.”

On Thursday at 8 p.m. in Gregory Gymnasium, the Longhorns (22-1) will kick off their postseason with a single-elimination matchup against Northeast Conference champion Fairleigh Dickinson (17-15), first-time NCAA Tournament qualifiers. If Texas advances, it will face the winners of the Georgia matchup against No. 8-seed Towson on Friday.  

No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Marquette, No. 5 Georgia Tech, No. 6 Southern California and No. 7 Florida State are the other seeded teams in the Longhorns’ region of the bracket for Texas to keep a close eye on.  

If the favorites win, the Longhorns could be destined for a regional final against Ohio State or Minnesota, both teams that Texas beat earlier in the regular season. If the Longhorns make it to the Final Four, a semifinal matchup with Stanford could be on the horizon, another team that Texas beat earlier this year. Senior outside hitter Logan Eggleston said seeing familiar faces in the postseason is exciting. 

“We’ve played Ohio State, Minnesota (and) Stanford this season and came out on top,” Eggleston said. “But we know they are not the same team as they were at the beginning of the season. So it’ll definitely be a different team that we feel that we would be facing if we do face them again.”

Courtesy of earning one of the top four national seeds, the Longhorns will host the opening rounds in Gregory Gymnasium all the way through the regional final if they make it that far.  Senior libero Zoe Fleck said she enjoys the energetic environment in Gregory Gymnasium and can feel the toll of the noise, something that could prove to be a massive home-court advantage in the postseason.  

“You can’t feel anything but the noise,” Fleck said. “Other stadiums might have more people in them, but Gregory feels like the people are on top of you, and that can be really tough on an opponent, but that’s what makes it so fun.” 

Regardless of the outcome, Eggleston and the rest of the women in the Texas volleyball program have enjoyed the ride of pursuing a championship. This season, the top-ranked Longhorns finished the regular season with a 22-1 record and the program’s sixth consecutive Big 12 conference title.

“We love playing volleyball,” Eggleston said. “We love getting to compete with each other every day, so it’s a blessing to come in every single day and get to compete with each other during practice … It’s definitely one day at a time, one practice at a time, one contact at a time. We don’t take that for granted at all.”