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

Texas volleyball sweeps SMU, headed back to Sweet 16

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.

After a hard-fought win against Texas A&M Thursday night, Texas again defended its home court with a victory over SMU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns swept the Mustangs 25-16, 25-14 and 25-17 and are headed to the third round for the eighteenth straight time. 

“We’re super excited to move on,” Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I want to thank our fans for being a part of that, being the energy we had, and doing a great job there.”

Unlike its first round matchup against Texas A&M, Texas found its rhythm quickly and early and never gave up its momentum. On the night, Texas totaled a .446 hitting percentage with 46 kills and held SMU to only a .146 hitting percentage. 

Texas had another great performance from senior leader Asjia O’Neal, who had six kills and five total blocks. Junior outside hitters Madisen Skinner and Jenna Wenaas led the team in kills, with Skinner totaling 21 kills on a .486 hitting percentage and Wenaas with 10 kills on .421.  

In her second postseason game, freshman setter Ella Swindle dished out 37 assists, earning more than last night’s performance despite playing one less set. Sophomore Emma Halter had a great night at the service line, grabbing four service aces and 10 digs. 

Neither team found their footing as they traded points early on until Halter stepped to the service line. Halter tallied back-to-back aces as she led the charge for a Texas lead, along with three errors from SMU in a set in which they had seven total. The Longhorns 6–0 run got the home crowd rowdy and alive early, setting the tone for the rest of the night as the Texas momentum carried into both sets two and three. 

“Tonight, I thought we were emotionally stable and started out at a really high level, and we just managed our game,” Elliott said. “We put a ton of pressure on them the entire night with our serving and kept steady the whole night.”

An eighteenth straight Sweet 16 appearance for Texas shows the grit of a program such as itself, but it isn’t something anyone takes for granted at this stage. Wenaas said that “it’s easy to lose sight of what a great opportunity that is” and that she is “just grateful for that experience and a chance to keep going.” 

Teammate Skinner added that the Longhorns are nowhere near ready for their season to end as they continue toward their title defense. 

“We’re working to buy ourself another day to be together, and we don’t want our season to end it’s way too early, so just making sure we’re doing our jobs and our responsibilities and trusting one another just to keep this thing going,” Skinner said.

Texas’ next match won’t come until next week when they will take on the winner of Tennessee and Western Kentucky in the Sweet 16. Next week’s matches will be hosted in Palo Alto, California, the home of No. 1 seed Stanford

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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.