Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

No. 7 Texas volleyball knocks off No. 5 Minnesota away from home

Hannan Abdikadir
Texas Volleyball players huddle up during game against Minnesota on Aug. 29, 2023.

After an upsetting loss against Long Beach State on Aug. 25 that moved No. 1 Texas to No. 7, Texas Volleyball was eager to prove themselves against another top 10 team. 

From the beginning of the road game, Texas had to battle Minnesota. The Gophers and Longhorns alternated points, neither team gaining momentum until senior middle blocker Asjia O’Neal moved the Longhorns into their first lead of the game with a score of 10-9. Texas scored 4 consecutive points, leading Minnesota to call a timeout. 

The timeout, however, did not stop Texas from extending their lead. Freshman setter Ella Swindle dumped the ball across the net, giving Texas a 15-10 lead. With big hits by O’Neal, Swindle, junior outside hitter Madisen Skinner, and senior opposite hitter Molly Phillips, Texas finished the set 25-14.

After a decisive first set by Texas, Minnesota answered with a five point lead to start out the second set. Similar to Minnesota in the first set, Texas coaches knew that an early lead could affect the outcome of the set, so the coaches called a timeout. 

When the players returned to the court, the Longhorns came back to tie the game at 6-6 with an ace by Skinner. With scrappy plays by both teams to keep the ball alive, Texas moved ahead by two points with kills by O’Neal and former Minnesota player junior Jenna Wenaas. 

In her three years as a Gopher, Wenaas averaged 2.47 kills per set and 2.43 digs per set, developing a solid fanbase in Minnesota. Returning to Texas last year, Frisco-born Wenaas played hard to upset her former team. 

The Gophers matched the Longhorn’s energy and the two teams fought to gain momentum. On the set-determining point with the score at 23-24, the Gophers hit the ball outside the lines, giving the Longhorns the chance to take the set. 

But Minnesota challenged the play, saying Texas touched the ball when blocking. They won the challenge, giving them the second set. 

In the third set, Texas gained an early lead and did not lose it. With a kill by Wenaas, Texas doubled Minnesota’s score 12-6. Minnesota called a timeout with a seven point deficit. However, the break did not slow down Texas’ dominance in the third set. 

Skinner hit a total of eight kills, and Wenaas had a huge set-point hit to the outside line to win the set 24-17.

Texas trailed around four points behind Minnesota for most of the last set. While trying to close the gap, Wenaas stepped up against her former team. With two kills by Wenaas, one kill by Phillips and excellent blocking by Texas, the team was able to tie Minnesota 18-18. A block by Phillips and Bella Bergmark gave Texas their first lead of the set since 1-0.  

However, with a huge hit from Minnesota, the game was tied again at 22-22. Texas was able to pull ahead to 24-22 with a service error and an attacking error by Minnesota. Their first set-point attempt was denied by Minnesota, increasing pressure on Texas as Minnesota crept up on a set-point attempt. 

Just as it was beginning to look like a repeat of the second set, Skinner approached the net and spiked the ball to the floor to win the game 25-23. With her first double-double of the season, Skinner got a team-high of 16 kills and 11 digs. 

With the win, Texas pulls away from the game with a 2-1 record, a higher ranking, and their fourth straight win against the Gophers. 

The Longhorns will now focus on taking on No. 2 Stanford at home on Sunday, Sept. 3.

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