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. 5 Texas volleyball moves on to round two of NCAA Championship after beating Texas A&M

Lorianne Willett
Libero Keonilei Akana during Texas’ game against A&M on Nov. 30, 2023. The game was the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament, and Texas won 3-1.

The No. 5 Texas Longhorns beat the Texas A&M Aggies 3-1 to move to the second round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament where they will be playing against SMU on Friday.

Both Aggie and Longhorn fans showed up for their teams, bringing the energy in Gregory Gymnasium. The two bands began playing two different songs at the same time as the fans tried to outcompete the other.

“I grew up in Texas so I’ve always known about this rivalry,” senior Asjia O’Neal said. “So being able to have this, even though I won’t be in the SEC next year, they will and I’m very excited for them.”

Amongst a battle between the two school bands, the Longhorns struggled to find their groove in the first set. The Aggies were able to get a nine point lead as the Longhorns struggled to get past blockers at the net and had 10 errors.

“They’re a really good blocking team versus left side attackers and they put a lot of pressure on,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “A lot of this is the nerves, trying to calm them down and be willing to play for long periods of time.”

After their second timeout of the set, Texas went two 6-1 runs, but miscommunication was the Longhorn’s downfall. On the set point for Texas A&M, O’Neal dug a ball, only for it to fall on the court.

“We didn’t play very smooth in game one,” Elliott said. “But we still fought and got a rhythm going and that gave us some confidence in game two.”

The Longhorns came into the second set determined, taking a ten point lead early on and finishing the set 25-13.

Texas won several points with serves from sophomore libero Emma Halter to the same Aggie player, which went over the net and into the hands of O’Neal.

For two points, O’Neal spiked the ball right into empty space. For another point, O’Neal set the ball up in the air, which was then set by Swindle back to O’Neal for the kill.

“I don’t think we got the middles involved a lot in the first set,” freshman setter Ella Swindle said. “We figured that out as a team. And so getting Asjia (O’Neal) and Bella (Bergmark) going really opened up our offense and I had options all over the court.”

O’Neal was a powerhouse for Texas, getting two single blocks, eight block assists and hitting 14 kills for a 0.538 hitting percentage.

“For me personally, (O’Neal’s) just that rock that I can lean on because she’s been here so many times now,” Swindle said. “And being a freshman, I look to her as a leader and I know that she’s gonna have my back whether I’m doing really good things or not so good things, she’s going to be my number one supporter on the court.”

With both teams understanding the weight of the third set, points went back and forth between the two teams. Texas came out on top, winning the third and fourth sets 25-20.

With a challenging first round win, Texas feels more prepared to take on the rest of the tournament, starting with a game against SMU on Friday.

“This tournament isn’t about playing smooth all the time. It’s learning how to kind of grit and find ways to win,” Elliott said. “It’s a quick turnaround, but we’ve got a really great sports science team. We’ve been training for this all year long.”

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About the Contributor
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.