Texas volleyball sneak peek at 2023 roster reconstruction


Julius Shieh

Senior Asjia O’Neal jumps to hit the ball during a game against Kansas on Nov. 16, 2022. Texas won 3-0.

Tori Garcia, General Sports Reporter

With the loss of pivotal graduated seniors following their 2022 National Championship title, head coach Jerritt Elliott needed to make some crucial adjustments to the Texas volleyball program.

“Every year you have different personnel,” Elliott said. “You have to find the strengths and superpowers. We have a lot of great players coming back, and we try to fill those shoes pretty fast.”

Outside hitter and 2022 AVCA National Player of the Year Logan Eggleston, libero Zoe Fleck and setter Saige Kaʻahaʻaina-Torres were the most influential elements in taking home the fourth title in Texas volleyball program history and a 28–1 overall 2022 season record. Eggleston’s leadership, Fleck’s back-row defensive quickness and Texas’ in-system offense quarterbacked by Kaʻahaʻaina-Torres proved to work cohesively. However, with the close of their collegiate careers last season and their professional volleyball journeys beginning, the Longhorns have major shoes to fill.

“They are a big part of Texas,” Elliott said. “They left it better than they found it, and they’re watching from afar, and it’s great.”

On Wednesday, Texas volleyball stepped foot in Gregory Gym with a spring matchup against Baylor and showcased some new additions to the roster. The Longhorns ran the scoreboard with a 3-0 sweep on the match 25-21, 25-10 and 25-20 respectively. Regardless of the result, two more sets were played. Texas took control of the fourth set, 25-23 but dropped 10-15 in the fifth.

Freshman setter Ella Swindle replaced Kaʻahaʻaina-Torres in the starting setter position to begin the game. Although she struggled with minor ball placement issues, she managed to connect heavily with junior outside hitter Madisen Skinner, who will be dangerous for opponents in the upcoming season as a likely six-rotation player.

Transfer junior outside hitter Jenna Wenaas had a hot-hitting hand, but grappled heavily with serve return and ball placement for Swindle.

Sophomore Emma Halter and junior Keonilei Akana both repped the black libero jersey. However, Halter’s quick mobility was more beneficial in aiding a struggling back row defense now without Fleck. Halter’s ball placement set the Longhorns up for an in-system offense, which creates more opportunities for Texas and will put the Longhorns at an advantage in the fall.

A combination of Skinner’s powerful swinging arm in conjunction with redshirt senior middle blocker Asjia O’Neal’s proficient blocking technique is a dangerous duo to face. O’Neal and Skinner’s leadership and experience will create a new dynamic for the 2023 season.

“Our culture is already pretty established,” O’Neal said. “I think because we have upperclassmen that hold that standard really high, it is easy for people to come in and see what the expectations are and fall through with it.”

Skinner said that their relationship with one another proves to be crucial in learning from each other and establishing good connections on the court.

“We invest in our friendships off the court, as well,” Skinner said. “We know we can hold each other accountable, and we know we care about each other, and that’s all that matters. It’s all from a place of love, and we all know that.”