The women’s volleyball team began the season ranked as the second-best squad in the nation. But a pair of losses last month knocked the team, dropping them from the elite and snapping their home winning streak, which had been the longest in the nation.
One month later, however, it’s clear those losses were but a pair of flukes. The women have since won six of seven contests—and have, even more impressively, gone 20-3 in sets within those contests.
And the wins, as far as the early season is concerned, couldn’t have come at a better time, as Big 12 play has finally begun for the Longhorns.
Conference play began Sept. 22, with a resounding 3-0 home victory over the University of Oklahoma. The Sooners had come into the contest with a 12-3 record, but a strong showing from sophomore All-American outside hitter Haley Eckerman—who poured in 14 kills in the matchup—sealed UT’s win.
The women then took down Baylor University in Waco with another 3-0 sweep—the Longhorns’ all-time record against the Bears is now 70-2—and moved on to an anticipated contest with Texas Tech. The matchup, held Saturday in Lubbock, opened just as the previous few: The Longhorns busted out to an early 11-5 lead in the first set, and ended up winning by a healthy 25-16 margin.
The Red Raiders charged back in the second set, jumping to a 6-1 lead. A 9-3 run from Texas pushed the Longhorns back into the lead, but the Bears didn’t fade. As the set continued, Baylor utilized a pair of Longhorn errors to take a 23-22 lead, only two points from grabbing the set. A trio of points, highlighted by a cross-court winner from junior outside hitter All-American Bailey Webster, gave the Longhorns the win and a 2-0 cushion.
Still, though, the Bears didn’t roll over. The third set remained neck-and-neck, and the two teams ended up tied a 21-21. A late run, sealed with a block from sophomore middle blocker Khat Bell and senior utility Sha’Dare McNeal, gave the Longhorns their 11th win of the year. Texas is now 33-2 all-time in Lubbock, and 72-9-2 all-time against the Red Raiders.
The squad is now firmly atop the Big 12 standings. Its next contest will come at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against TCU, a squad that, while coming off of a loss, currently has the third-most wins in the conference.
Photo courtesy Texas Athletics.