Up 2-1, No. 5 Texas seemed destined to defeat Iowa State and leave Ames, Iowa, with a 12–1 conference record.
But 72 serves later, the Longhorns found themselves in an unfamiliar position. Texas, 19–4, 11–2 Big 12, lost the match 3-2 to the surging Cyclones, 16–9, 8–5 Big 12, who have now won six straight contests.
Each set was a footrace to 25 points. Both teams traded punches throughout, and no set finished with a point differential greater than five.
Texas took the first set Saturday, a 25-23 victory establishing an early advantage. However, Iowa State was not outmatched — the score was tied nine separate times during the set. Down 22-21, the Longhorns benefited from three consecutive Cyclone attack errors to jump to a 1-0 set lead.
The home team responded with consistent execution. Iowa State and Texas started set two in similar close fashion. But a 4-0 run by the Cyclones in the middle of the frame boosted them ahead for the remainder of the set. The Cyclones led by as much as eight in the set, the largest lead by either team at any point in the match. Fueled by junior middle blocker Samara West, Iowa State tied the match with a 25-21 victory.
The third set finished as the most uneven in the match. Texas rolled through the Cyclones for a 25-20 victory off three distinct 3-0 runs. The Longhorns’ outside hitters racked up 19 kills in the set, giving Texas an ample opportunity to win its eighth straight match over Iowa State.
The turning point of the match came in the penultimate set. Leading 12-11, Iowa State ignited a 7-0 run on Alexis Conaway’s serves. The junior middle blocker led the Cyclones to a 25-21 set victory to send the match into a fifth set.
With the full support of the home crowd, Iowa State scored 10 of the first 15 points in the set. Iowa State never looked back and closed the match out 15-11.
Despite the loss, multiple Longhorns stood out defensively. Sophomore middle blocker Morgan Johnson earned a career-high nine blocks, while junior libero Cat McCoy registered a career-best 29 digs.
Texas’ loss positions No. 4 Kansas, 23–2, 12–1 Big 12, in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 title. The Longhorns have a chance to regroup Wednesday at home against Texas Tech.