Before the Longhorns carve the turkey, break out the fine china, turn on the football game and sit down for a Thanksgiving meal, they still have business to take care of.
Rival Texas A&M comes to town Wednesday, in what amounts to the final regular season home match for No. 8 Texas — it’s the big game before the big game Thursday night.
Head coach Jerritt Elliott isn’t overlooking the Aggies (13-15; 7-11 Big 12) as they invade Gregory Gymnasium the night before Turkey Day. He knows just how dangerous A&M can be and is preparing his team for a tough matchup.
“When they put it together, they’re a scary team,” Elliott said. “They’re very efficient, play well and fight hard. When you play a rival, you throw out the records. It’s going to be a battle on our home floor this time. We’re excited to play that match.”
The atmosphere on the court will surely be heightened tonight, but it’s something the Longhorns (21-5; 16-2) are ready for as their rival finally comes to town. It will be the final Lone Star Showdown for seniors Juliann Faucette, Jennifer Doris and Lauren Dickson.
“It’s what college athletics is all about,” Elliott said. “It’s what they’ll look back on when they’re done here.”
Faucette has keyed the Longhorns’ 13-match winning streak and has turned up her play as the season winds down. The outside hitter was named Conference Player of the Week for the second straight week Monday and has been a load for opposing teams to handle.
But it hasn’t been an easy road for Texas as players have been in and out of the lineup during the Longhorns’ hot streak, as the injury bug has bitten the team at times. Players have had to step up into new roles and fill the voids left by those on the sidelines, keeping Elliott and his staff busy with adjustments.
“It’s amazing how many players we’ve had improve with their different positions,” Elliott said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence as a staff, and we’re excited about where we’re headed, but we understand that this is going to be a very tough week for us.”
The Longhorns travel to Ames, Iowa, to take on No. 16 Iowa State on Saturday in the final match of the regular season, setting up a tough road for Texas as they look to run their win streak to 15. But with a pair of tough matchups ahead, it’s a chance for the team to work out the kinks before the NCAA
“It’s good for us to be able to play this level of match because you know A&M is going to bring their A game and Iowa State is always a battle,” Elliott said. “We’re going to be tested this week, which we need to [be] before the NCAA tournament.”
The tournament begins Dec. 2 with first and second round games as well as the regional final to be played at Gregory Gym.