Longhorns prepare for Red River renewal

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Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

Almost 20 games into the season, the No. 3 Longhorns are more familiar with the asphalt than the hardwood. That’s how long they’ve been on the road.

Coming off of a 3-0 sweep at Texas Tech, the Longhorns look to ride their momentum into their Red River rivalry matchup at Oklahoma on Sunday.

Texas (15–2, 7–0 Big 12) has won nine straight games, maintaining its unblemished conference record atop the Big 12. But while the Longhorns’ record might suggest smooth sailing up until this point, the team’s success hasn’t come without a few obstacles along the way.

“Just trusting our routines and trusting the scouting reports and game plans that our coaches are giving to us (are key),” senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu said. “Just having confidence in ourselves.”

A tough Texas Tech team pushed the Longhorns to the brink Wednesday night, earning a set point after going up 24-20. But Texas exhibited the toughness it’s shown all year, fighting back to even the set and clinch the frame, 27-25.

Texas also found itself down two sets to one on two separate occasions this season on the road but still found a way to fight its way back to victory in both contests.

This kind of poise exhibited isn’t something that can be coached but a mentality that the players have to adopt.

“Just staying calm,” freshman outside hitter Lexi Sun said. “Focusing on what we can do … pays off in the end.”

The Longhorns have struggled defensively on a number of occasions this season, leading to lost points and early deficits. This was evident in their matchup with then-No. 9 Kansas, who battered Texas’ defensive alignments with relentless attacks.

Errors have hurt Texas as well. A total of 138 serving errors cost the Longhorns crucial points in serving situations, a key factor in each of their two losses on the year.

“Once we start cleaning up some things, it starts going our way,” Sun said. “We (tend to) get better at the end.”

Texas knows it is near the top of the college volleyball world, and each night, the Longhorns get the best from teams around the country.

“We know our potential,” Ogbogu said. “So as long as we keep working to that, we’re gonna be okay.”

On Sunday, Oklahoma (5–15, 2–5 Big 12) will enter its contest with the Longhorns fresh off of a sweep of TCU. Texas will look to take advantage of the Sooners’ poor defense, which has allowed a .256 hitting percentage this season.

First serve is set for 3 p.m. in Norman, Oklahoma.