There’s something about the color maroon that gets people fired up in Austin.
Texas A&M left the Big 12 in 2011, but that didn’t dissolve tensions between the two teams. The renowned rivalry is alive and well in Texas, just waiting for the next chapter to be written.
That chapter will unfold this Wednesday as the No. 6 Longhorns head to College Station to take on Texas A&M.
Texas enters the match looking to rebound off a hard-fought 3-1 loss to No. 1 Minnesota at home. The Longhorns kept it close, but the Golden Gophers’ explosive offense, led by freshman opposite Stephanie Samedy’s 22 kills, proved too much to overcome.
The Longhorns walked off their home court knowing they just missed out on a statement win.
“We were just too emotional,” senior libero Cat McCoy said. “It sucks to lose, but it’s still so early in the season. We have a long way to go until the summer, so we just have to get back to work.”
Texas has now faltered against its two best opponents this year, losing to No. 3 Florida at the VERT Challenge before last week’s defeat to Minnesota. But every loss brings a lesson, and Texas hopes to use this tough competition as a learning block for the future.
“We could have easily scheduled matches where we would be undefeated right now,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “But we wanted to put our kids in some adverse situations so they can adapt and grow.”
Now the Longhorns have their sights set on Texas A&M. And although the Aggies are just 3–3 this season, they have no intentions of losing on their home court, especially to Texas.
“(Texas A&M) is very battled-tested too,” Elliott said. “It’s just another situation where we’ll have to adapt early on to the stresses, and I want to see if we can do that.”
Texas has plenty motivation of its own though. The Longhorns have won their last 16 matches against in-state opponents, and they take pride in ruling the Lone Star State.
“(Texas A&M) is a good team,” McCoy said. “But any time we play a team in Texas, it’s a different mindset. We (want to) run Texas.”
This trip up I-35 won’t be uncharted territory for just Texas’ freshmen. The Longhorns haven’t played in College Station since 2011, making Reed Arena a foreign atmosphere for even the team’s veteran players.
“It’ll be fun to get to play at their place this time,” McCoy said. “It’s going to be a great environment, and I’m sure they’re going to bring their A-game.”
After already facing so much adversity this season, the Longhorns aren’t backing down from the challenge. And although it’ll be an uphill battle on the road, all bets are off when they see the Aggies in their signature shade of maroon.
“This is an important one,” Elliott said. “This is what makes collegeathletics so fun.”
First serve for Texas vs. Texas A&M is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m.