That’s not only the consecutive number of road wins that have gone to five sets this season, but also the number of times a Texas team has defeated OU within the past week.
Yep, the Longhorns won, and in epic fashion at that. No. 4 Texas took down Oklahoma in Norman (25-23, 20-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-9) to get back on track after a tough road loss to Kansas.
“I think today was a good step forward,” senior middle blocker Morgan Johnson said. “I feel like (other teams) don’t come back from (tough losses), and I think we did a great job of rallying together tonight.”
Texas, as it has on the road all season, played a close first set. The Sooners jumped out to a 16-11 lead midway through the set courtesy of a 6-0 run, but Texas stormed back to tie it up late at 22. That’s when freshman outside hitter Logan Eggleston and outside hitter Micaya White teamed up to give Texas the separation it needed to win the set.
That’s when the back-and-forth affair began. The Sooners took the second set with relative ease, jumping out to an early and lead and never looking back. And Texas responded with a little bit of the same in the third frame.
Senior outside hitter Alyssa Enneking led the Sooners with 20 kills and consistently punished the Longhorns from either side of the net. Her 10 kills in the second set gave Oklahoma the momentum it needed to push Texas to the limit. But Enneking and the Sooners also taught the Longhorns something of even more value.
“You don’t see that (resolve) in all young teams,” Johnson said. “It shows the amount of potential we have … For us to pull out so many of these wins speaks volumes to this team.”
The Longhorns have dealt with pressure all season, but have not had to deal with it at this part of their schedule. Until Wednesday’s loss at Kansas, Texas had ripped off 25 straight wins in conference games. The loss not only hurt Texas’ chances to be a top-four seed this postseason, but also set in a sense of urgency to respond.
That’s what Texas did after Oklahoma forced a decisive fifth set. The Longhorns ultimately won the race to 15 points behind Johnson, who was a force on the offensive and defensive side of the net, and got exactly what they needed following a loss.
“I think we wanted to have (a sense of urgency),” Johnson said regarding the loss to Kansas. “There’s definitely a sense of urgency to improve and get to the point we need to get, but we also can’t run around like chickens with their heads cut off.”
White and Johnson led Texas with 17 and 12 kills on the night, respectively, but Johnson played a big part in Texas’ defensive stand with five blocks as well. Texas outblocked Oklahoma 15-10, and that helped make the difference in Saturday’s result.
The Longhorns have a lot more soul searching to do as close games and set situations are slowly helping this team find its identity. With a young core as the centerpiece of this team, it’s the response from the team that’s defining its identity.
“I think we know what it (our identity is),” Johnson said. “We all came together (during the game), played as one team and one heartbeat, and I think that’s who we are.”
Texas will have the week off before returning to action when it hosts Texas Tech on Saturday, Oct. 20. First serve is set for 1 p.m. at Gregory Gym.