Another week has passed and Texas volleyball is still ranked No. 1 in the country. Texas has won 10 matches in a row, causing expectations to grow even further.
“This has been a really fun team to coach,” said Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott. “I felt from the very first week their goals were set pretty high.”
The Longhorns are coming off their ninth consecutive win in straight sets, defeating West Virginia last Sunday. Friday, Texas has another opportunity to extend the streak against its archrival, the Oklahoma Sooners.
The last time these teams faced off, the lead changed back and forth 17 times. Texas prevailed in straight sets though, riding the offensive firepower of sophomore outside hitter Logan Eggleston, who had 11 digs that match and has averaged 13 kills per match this season.
Eggleston’s strong play has been an important element in the Longhorns success. Currently she is focusing on becoming a better all around player to help Texas rise to new heights.
“I’m just focusing on getting better every single time we step into the gym,” Eggleston said. “I think we have especially focused on our defense and become more of a gritty team.”
The grit has been something Texas has been trying to tap into all season. After holding West Virginia to a .146 hitting percentage, it appears the defense is beginning to take shape. The defensive improvement will play an imperative role in the Longhorns strategy down the road.
“Offensively you’ve seen the consistency, but defensively, we keep getting better,” Elliott said. “We’re trying to put pressure on teams in all three facets of the game. When it happens, good things usually occur.”
Constant improvement is important, especially when facing a team that is starting to come into its own. The Sooners took their loss in Gregory Gymnasium as a learning experience. Oklahoma has played very well, winning four out of its last five matches after falling to Texas.
Senior outside hitter Ashlynn Dunbar has lead the charge with 251 total kills. Aside from a strong talent, the Sooners have home court advantage which gives them the hope of being a potential spoiler.
However, Texas is determined to not let a midseason slip happen. The Longhorns have their sights set on the present despite the chatter about having their sights set on higher goals.
“We definitely know that every single team we play they’re going to bring 100%,” Eggleston said. “We have to make sure that we are going into every game focused, we’re not focusing on the future.”
The pressure will continue to increase match after match, especially with a No. 1 ranking. This raises questions about how the Longhorns will respond to the praise.
It appears that Texas is going to continue to reach into the fire that drove them to the mountaintop.
“I think we always have a target on our back being Texas,” Eggleston said. “I think a lot of teams know our history and always want to beat us. I think we just put a big emphasis on not looking at the numbers or the rankings.”