A day after knocking off No. 1 Penn State, No. 6 Texas dispatched No. 2 Stanford in four sets to cap off a great weekend.
Texas made sure to avoid another lackadaisical start like it had against Penn State, jumping ahead of Stanford with an 8-2 run. Stanford bounced back from the early onslaught to tie the game at 17 before Texas reached match point leading 24-21.
After a few attack errors by the Longhorns, Stanford tied the game on what appeared to be a tip by one of their players. Texas kept its composure, however, and took the set 29-27.
“We’ve been through this before and after we won [against Penn State], we moved on to looking at Stanford and scouting them and were just worried about the next day,” senior outside hitter Bailey Webster said.
In the second set, Stanford raced out to an early 8-4 lead, attacking the middle of the Texas defense relentlessly. Texas battled back to tie the set at 12, but Stanford’s pace was too much as it out-hit Texas .273 to .146 to take the set 25-18 and even the match.
Much like Saturday’s game against Penn State, Texas dug deep and responded after a bad set with a 25-16 thrashing of the Cardinal in the third. The Longhorns out-hit Stanford .294 to .222 while recording 13 kills.
“We flipped our lineup to try to give them different looks,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We responded to them by being a little more aggressive with our body posture and how we touched the first ball, and we were able to score.”
The Longhorns kept up the tempo to open the fourth set on an 8-4 run as freshman Pilar Victoria began to find her game, notching three of her six kills in the set. Stanford continued to attack the weak middle of the Texas front and eventually tied the game at 23 before the set went to extra points.
With the sellout crowd of 4,256 fans behind the Longhorns, a service ace by Haley Eckerman and a block by Webster gave Texas a 27-25 win in the fourth set and a 3-1 match victory.
“They run a really quick offense and that was just something we had to get used to,” senior libero Sarah Palmer said. “Eventually we picked up on that and our blockers did a great job towards the end of the game picking up on the hitters and knowing their tendencies, which really helped out with the defense in the back row.”
Eckerman led the Longhorns with 15 kills in the match, and Webster added 13. Palmer did a great job patrolling the middle of the floor to negate the Stanford attack, registering a team-high 19 digs in the match.
Escaping the weekend with wins over the top two teams in the country gives Texas a ton of momentum heading into next weekend with matches against top-25 opponents Illinois and Nebraska.
“It’s early. Should Penn State and Stanford and Florida do well, this bodes well for us, but we’ve got to be able to take care of business,” Elliott said. “We potentially could get some big RPI points to become a top seed. We still have some big challenges on the road next weekend at Illinois.”