Unusual. That’s one word to describe No. 6 Texas’ extended break heading into their out-of-conference finale against the UTSA Roadrunners.
Texas has had almost a week off since its last contest, a 3-0 sweep of Texas A&M in College Station on Wednesday night. The long break gave the Longhorns a chance to get more practice in and take a breather from what has been a road-heavy schedule so far.
“It’s been different,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It’s nice to let the team relax a little bit on the weekend since it’s been a long preseason (on top of) how intense it has been.”
Texas showed a lot of improvement on the defensive end in its bounce-back win against the Aggies, with three players recording double-digit digs. The Longhorns also out-blocked the Aggies 13-2 over the course of three sets.
“We’re really working on being able to do it (defend) for long periods of time,” Elliott said. “The defense is starting to buy into it and learning from the film sessions.”
Texas credits its defensive prowess to a high degree of mental toughness in game situations. Even with their backs against the wall, the Longhorns refuse to cave in.
“Just thinking more about what we can do this play, getting this pass, getting this set, not really thinking about whether we’re down 10-7 or up 15-7 (is key),” sophomore outside hitter Micaya White said. “It’s still 0-0 no matter what.”
This approach helped Texas come back from an early deficit against the Aggies in the first set of Wednesday’s match. After falling to 14-12 midway through the frame, Elliott’s squad stormed back, sprinting to a 25-20 victory. Now the Longhorns look to perfect their approach come Tuesday night.
Looking ahead, the Longhorns will search for their 10th all-time win against UTSA on Tuesday night. Texas has a perfect 9–0 record against the Roadrunners, but they aren’t writing them off just yet.
“We’re playing good for spurts,” Elliott said. “It’s a long season, and we know about the process, and the intensity has to be there.”
That intensity has been present in non-conference play. The Longhorns lead the country in blocks per set at 3.48, hit over .300 in six of their last seven games, and have held opponents under a .164 hitting percentage in all but one of their games this season.
And with Big 12 play coming up, the Longhorns will need to dial it up a notch.
“We’ve been increasing our intensity,” White said. “We just need to keep striving in our practice gym and just carrying it out into the games.”
The Longhorns will face off against UTSA on Tuesday before traveling to Morgantown on Saturday, Sept. 23, to take on West Virginia. First serve against the Roadrunners will be at 7:00 p.m.