No. 1 Texas volleyball triumphs over Marquette, advances to Elite Eight

Katie Borchetta, General Sports Reporter

Top-seeded Texas volleyball beat out No. 4 seed Marquette 3-1 in the NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal on Thursday at Gregory Gym.

With the win, the Longhorns will make their 16th Elite Eight appearance in the last 17 seasons and will face No. 3 seed Ohio State in the regional final on Saturday.

“We have a lot of gratitude for being in the Elite Eight,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said after the match. “We respect it a tremendous amount, and we’re living to fight another day.”

The game itself was fast-paced and intense on both sides of the court. Senior outside hitter Logan Eggleston led the team with 15 kills and had three service aces, which brought her into a tie for the Big 12 career ace record of 205 held by Baylor’s Taylor Barnes.

The first set instantly got away from Marquette with Texas dominating the court 25-14. Asjia O’Neal, redshirt senior middle blocker, recorded eight blocks and senior setter Saige Kaʻahaʻaina-Torres found success dishing out to her hitters. She also deceivingly sent a few second touches over herself to provide some offense. Marquette appeared flustered with the intensity of Gregory Gym and Texas’ fans as the first set was riddled with mistakes on the Golden Eagles’ end. 

The second set began with an 8-3 run by Texas until Marquette called a timeout. The Golden Eagles held their ground against the top-ranked team, but Texas ultimately took the set at 25-13.

The third set saw a completely different Longhorn team take the floor. In comparison to the first two sets, the third accounted for a bulk of the team’s errors, including multiple service errors and sloppy first touches that prohibited the Longhorns from establishing momentum.

With Marquette reaching a peak lead of 9 points at 20-11, Texas reduced the gap by building up their momentum to record 8 more points, but it wasn’t enough as the Longhorns dropped the set 25-19.

We got some pressure put on us which is great, and we want to be in those situations (where we) get pushed a little bit, and they were able to do that with us,” Elliott said.  “But I liked the way that we hit the reset button. The trust that they had in one another came back and pulled out the match.”

After things got shaky in the third set, Elliott decided to sub in redshirt junior middle blocker Bella Bergmark and sophomore outside hitter Melanie Parra. Bergmark found success, finishing with three kills and a .600 hitting percentage

“She’s just gonna continue to work and put in that effort,” Elliott said. “We’re gonna need to rely on some people coming off the bench, and she did a phenomenal job.”

Marquette showed a strong effort in the fourth and final set, but ultimately the Golden Eagles fell short 25-17. Texas held the lead the entire set to put away the win. 

One step closer to a potential national championship, Eggleston said that while the Longhorns are always thinking about the title, they have to keep Elliott’s advice about remaining focused on the task at hand in mind.

“Right now the goal is to beat Ohio State. We’re not going to look too far ahead,” Eggleston said. “Even though we know what the main goal is at the end of the day, it’s one game at a time, one point at a time.”