Jerritt Elliott

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

It was one point. Then two. Then twelve. 

As the Longhorns conceded twelve consecutive points in the second set, the offseason blues were prevalent. While technique was lacking during that set, chemistry wasn’t.

In the first scrimmage of the spring season, fans got their first look at Texas’ 2018 squad at Gregory Gym. The Longhorns put away the Aggies in four sets, 25-15, 18-25, 25-16, 25-23.

“It felt frantic at some times,” junior libero Autumn Rounsaville said. “We just tried to come together after each point (and regroup).”

The Aggies matched almost every Texas point to open up the match, staying within two points at the mid-set timeout. However, the Longhorns came out of the timeout and had a 9-1 set-closing spurt.

Texas cruised to a 17-10 lead in the second set, only to concede 12 straight points, and the set, to Texas A&M. Junior outside hitter Hollann Hans used her low, cutting serve to keep Texas at bay and help the Aggies come back. Hans had 15 kills and five service aces on the night.

The Longhorns took the lead early in the first set and never ceded it, cruising to a 25-16 win in the third frame.

Despite falling behind early in the fourth frame, Texas came back to play a contested final frame. Both teams traded points until the Longhorns pulled away from a 23-23 deadlock to take the set and match.

Tonight’s scrimmage also saw redshirt freshman middle blocker Brionne Butler see her first action on the court; the highly touted 2017 recruit put up five kills and four blocks, showcasing her versatile skill set at and around the net.

“You can’t even put a word on their potential,” Johnson said. “It’s limitless.”

Both Butler and junior Orie Agbaji got their first stints of extended playing time outside the practice gym, and their offseason work paid off on the floor. Agbaji added six kills and three blocks in the winning effort.

For head coach Jerritt Elliott, Texas’ scrimmage was an opportunity to shake off rust and tinker with a shorthanded roster.

“The rust has been part of the spring,” Elliott said. “You play so many different lineups, but more so we wanted to see a high performance level.”

During the offseason, Texas graduated three seniors and lost star freshman outside hitter Lexi Sun, who transferred to Nebraska. This left the Longhorns with plenty of voids on the court to fill. 

As a result, Wednesday’s scrimmage provided the Longhorns the opportunity to switch players around and try different positions.

“We definitely get better at playing every position,” senior middle blocker Morgan Johnson said. “It makes us more scrappy … it makes us want to work that much harder to overcome the bad hand that was dealt to us.”

Along with the departures, the Longhorns faced a lot drama within the locker room. On top of the questions surrounding Sun’s departure, fellow freshman Olivia Zelon departed the program, highlighting her grievances in a blog post in early January.

The Longhorns didn’t let the off-court drama get in their heads, using it instead as an opportunity to become closer as teammates and find new leaders to turn to, such as Rounsaville.

“We were in the eye of the storm this spring,” Johnson said regarding the offseason drama. “It showed our determination to work for what we want and ignore all the stuff going on around us.”

With new leaders and changes taking place, Texas’ spring season is poised to be an interesting one. Texas’ next scrimmage is set for next Thursday, April 12, against Texas State. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. at Gregory Gym.

Photo Credit: Carlos Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

Texas entered Friday’s match against Fairfield with every advantage imaginable. The Longhorns had the depth, the No. 6 seed in the tournament and 3,817 fans at Gregory Gym behind them.

But the Stags were anything but deer in the headlights, fighting tooth and nail with the Longhorns every step of the way.

Fairfield came out firing in the opening set, tying the score at nine and silencing the burnt-orange faithful. So Texas amped things up, feeding off the play of senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu.

The Big 12 Player of the Year continued her season-long dominance, recording five kills and leading the Longhorns to a 25-16 victory.

“In the NCAA tournament, there’s a lot of nerves,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “But I thought we were able to settle down, and we got some great production from our middles early on to give us some separation.”

With the momentum back on their side, the Longhorns hit their stride in the second set, dominating Fairfield to take a commanding 17-7 lead.

Fairfield had no answer for the Texas defense, especially on the front line. Five different Longhorns recorded at least one block in the set, stifling the Stags at every turn.

But the feisty road team led by head coach Todd Kress refused to quit, fending off three set points to bring the score to 24-18. Each time the crowd held its breath, ready to explode, and each time they exhaled in frustration.

Junior middle blocker Morgan Johnson finally put an end to the comeback bid, launching a missile through the heart of the Fairfield defense to secure the 25-18 win and take a two-set lead.

“We knew (Fairfield) would fight,” Elliott said. “They got after it, and I have a lot of respect for what Todd (Kress) has done with this program.”

Fairfield finally broke in the third set, as Texas went in for the kill. The Longhorns didn’t allow the Stags to get anything going, and Texas cruised to a 25-17 win to complete the sweep.

Sophomore outside hitter Micaya White finished the match with a team-high 12 kills (.281) in the victory. Ogbogu had an efficient outing, tallying 11 kills on a .917 hitting percentage and adding four blocks as well.

The Longhorns made the most of their chances throughout the night, recording only seven errors and posting a season-high hitting percentage of 66 percent.

“Our communication was just about taking care of what we could take care of,” Ogbogu said. “We focused on being calm on our side and just trying to scrape away points.”

The win sets up a second-round match against NC State at 7 p.m this Saturday at Gregory Gym. The Wolfpack are rolling after earning the program’s first tournament victory on Thursday with a five-set thriller over Oregon State.

But the match will mark Texas’ final home game of the year, and the Longhorns are determined to bid their fans at Gregory Gym farewell with one last win.

“It would mean a lot (to win),” Ogbogu said. “It’s sad to think that this is our last home match at Gregory, but we’re just excited to get out there.”

Photo Credit: Katie Bauer | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns hoisted the Big 12 title trophy on Wednesday night the same way they earned it: together.

Texas was crowned the king of the conference in front of a sold-out crowd at Gregory Gym, sweeping the rivaled Sooners to claim sole possession of the Big 12 title.

In a match that was also senior night for Texas, the Longhorns’ four-year veterans lead the way with a noticeable exuberance.

Senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu proved to be the difference in the first set despite the Sooners claiming an early 7-5 lead. The Coppell native worked to right the ship, posting three key kills.

Ogbogu also contributed two blocks, including a big-time rejection to earn the final point and give Texas a commanding 25-13 victory.

The second set was controlled by senior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu. The Fairview native routinely gave Oklahoma a healthy dosage of laser shots down the middle of the defense, recording three kills and committing zero errors in the process.

The Sooners couldn’t match Texas’ firepower, surrendering a 25-15 victory to the Longhorns to give the burnt orange a commanding two-set lead.

The closeout set kicked off with a roar of applause from the Texas faithful as senior middle blocker Mirta Baselovic made her first in-game appearance of the season. It took just two plays for the senior to land a kill, sending the crowd into a frenzy while giving the Longhorns a 12-6 lead.

After the Sooners’ 10-4 run quieted the crowd, it was time for another senior to take the reigns. This time it was senior libero Cat McCoy, who kept her team composed while foiling the Oklahoma offense with six key digs down the stretch to prevent any further damage.

Texas capitalized on those extra opportunities, stringing together an 8-4 run to reach match point. Ogbogu finished it off, delivering a back-breaking kill to secure the win and the title.

Both Ogbogu and Nwanebu finished the outing with eight kills, and McCoy finished with a team-high 10 digs. The win also marks one of Texas’ more complete games, recording a season-best hitting percentage of .526 for the match.

“All year we’ve been saying don’t let up,” Nwanebu said. “I think tonight was that night that we didn’t. If you want to win a championship, you have to peak later (in the season), and I think tonight showed that we’re getting to that point.”

After the trophy was hoisted and the team donned its Big 12 championship t-shirts, the night ended with a short ceremony for Texas’ seniors. The crowd gave each player a round of applause as they were given a bouquet of flowers and their framed jerseys in what might prove to be their last time on the hardwood of Gregory Gym.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Ogbogu said. “Obviously we still have more games to be played. That’s what’s making me not so emotional, but I know it’s going to hit me eventually.”

Texas still has work to do as it prepares for a road match against No. 18 Baylor on Saturday to close out the season. The Bears enter the match on a seven-game win streak highlighted by a 3-0 sweep over No. 14 Kansas on Nov. 11.

A win would solidify Texas’ bid to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament beginning No. 30, ensuring an additional set of matches at home.

“Baylor is scary,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “Every coach dreams of being in the position to be able to host at the end of the season, and that’s where we are right now. We just have to go out and execute and be ready.”

After helping Texas win a national championship her sophomore year, outside hitter Haley Eckerman fell short her next two years. Now, the Longhorns must look to build a championship team without their offensive stalwart. Luckily for them, they have the talent.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

For the second straight season, the Texas volleyball team fell one game short of its ultimate goal — a national title.

At the NCAA semifinal round, tournament Cinderella team BYU dominated Texas in the first two sets, and Texas couldn’t quite pull off a much-needed comeback, falling in four sets.

“[Our players] gave us a chance to get back, and I’m just really proud of what this team has accomplished this year and what Khat Bell and Haley [Eckerman] have done for this program,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said after the Dec. 18 loss. “And it’s always hard when you’re not ending the season with a ‘W.’”

Now, as the spring semester begins, the Longhorns’ main tasks will be maintaining the momentum built up by another deep postseason run and replacing two very key players: graduating seniors Bell and Eckerman.

During her time at Texas, Eckerman maintained a notable presence in Gregory Gym and across the nation with her massive jump serve and one of the hardest hits in the country. Where Eckerman led, the team followed. In the regional final against North Carolina, the Longhorns struggled in the second set, as the Tar Heels’ triple-block approach against Eckerman held her to only two kills and one attack error. North Carolina won the set, 25-18. But Eckerman led Texas back with four kills in the third set and five kills and an ace in the fourth set to close out the win.

Finding a new leader to fill Eckerman’s shoes won’t be easy.

Going into next season, Texas will also need to find a way to replace Bell’s emotional leadership. Although her stats don’t jump off the page like Eckerman’s, Bell was the heart and soul of the team. When she wasn’t on the court, she could be seen pumping up her teammates on the sideline — especially when the Longhorns won key points.

Of course, when it comes to replacing these players, Texas still has a wide range of options. Throughout the season, Elliott called this team the deepest he’s ever had, and many skilled players, who would be starters on other teams, didn’t really get a chance to see the court on a consistent basis.

Freshman libero Cat McCoy, who rarely played as though she was a freshman, is returning to the team. McCoy ended the year leading the team with 394 digs and 16 reception errors and became the defensive leader for the Longhorns’ back row.

Both setters — redshirt sophomore Nicole Dalton and true sophomore Chloe Collins — will return, giving Elliott the option of once again running the two-setter system he used this year. And sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu, who was unstoppable at times through the middle, will come back after landing on the NCAA Division I All-Tournament team.

Texas will undoubtedly return next season as the favorite in the Big 12, a popular pick to make it to the semifinals and a contender for a national championship. Between now and the start of the 2015 season, the Longhorns’ main task will be to configure a new winning strategy.

“That’s what you do,” Elliott said. “You pick up the pieces and build a new puzzle and try to figure it out again. That’s the fun part.”

The goal for Texas all season had been to make up for their loss in the national semifinals to unseeded Wisconsin a year ago.

But Thursday night the Longhorns’ run towards another national championship came to a screeching halt in the form of BYU and its formidable block.

The Cougars sent the Longhorns scrambling with 17 blocks and held Texas to a tournament-low.162 hitting percentage and came away with a 3-1 upset to kick the Longhorns out of the tournament and advance to the national title game for the first time in their history.

“Their block caused a lot of problems for us,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “They got a lot of good touches and a lot of blocks and that took us out of offense a bit.”

Though tough early on, it appeared as though Texas had the early upper hand, breaking on a 3-0 run to take a 15-12 lead into the media timeout. But with a 15-13 lead, the Longhorns had shot after shot blocked by the BYU front line, only for BYU to finally put the point away to get the set back to 15-14. The Cougars would then go on to tie set at 15 and eventually won it 25-23.

The second set, however, much like the second set against North Carolina, went way out of Texas’ favor. With the score tied at nine, BYU went on a 10-2 run, which included four blocks by the Cougars to take a 19-11 lead en route to a 25-16 set win.

But coming out of intermission, a new Texas team emerged. Needing a set win to keep the match alive, the Longhorns fired a .357 hitting percentage and kept the Cougars from getting any blocks in the set. After BYU hung around to tie the set at 17-all, Texas fired off an 8-0 run to force the match to a fourth set.

In that fourth set, the Longhorns held off Cougar run after Cougar run to stay alive. Fighting off one match point at 24-23, Texas appeared to be set up for a set point after an attack by BYU senior opposite hitter Jennifer Hamson went long. However, the down official, who was furthest away from the play, called that there was a touch, giving BYU a match point that they would convert to win the match.

“I think I can't comment on refereeing, but I can comment where I think the sport needs to go and I think we need to look at some instant replays and some abilities to make some calls, because it's difficult when you get a two‑point switch and your kids tried as hard as they did,” Elliott, who was given a yellow card for arguing the call, said.

When their attacks weren’t being block, the Longhorns had to deal with the Cougars managing to seemingly dig up every ball to set up their attack. The BYU backline came up with 52 digs, which then allowed BYU to drill 57 kills.

“We just wanted to make sure that we had each other's backs,” BYU senior outside hitter Tambre Nobles said. “We wanted our hitters to go up and have the confidence to take big swings knowing our defense would have our back if we got blocked.”

One bright spot for Texas in the loss was sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu. Ogbogu finished the night with a team-high and a career-high 14 kills and posted a hitting percentage of .500 as the Longhorns tried to feed the ball to the middle of the court to throw off the BYU block.

“I think it's a change in playing with the middles a lot more, getting them involved in the game is what made a difference for sure,” senior outside hitter Khat Bell said. “They were able to spread the offense a lot more and get the BYU's middles to bite a little bit.”

The loss ends Texas’ season in the national semifinal round for the second straight year. Last year Texas was upset by Wisconsin after many thought the Longhorns overlooked the Badgers. This year, however, Elliott thought they did a good job in preparing for their unseeded opponent.

“I told our staff, ‘Look, if we don't win this match it wasn't because we didn't prepare the right way, it wasn't because of the talk we had,’” Elliott said.

Elliott said he will give the players a break and then ask them questions about every part of the program before they “pick up the pieces and build a new puzzle and try to figure it out again.” But for seniors Haley Eckerman and Bell, this was their last match in a Texas uniform. Still, Eckerman, who has seemed to become the face of the program in her time on the Forty Acres, said they went out strong.

“It’s hard as a loss but we know that we fought and that that game could have gone either way,” Eckerman said. “And if we would have gone into a fifth set, we knew that we could take over a game."

Despite a rough night from middle blocker/outside hitter Khat Bell and outside hitter Haley Eckerman, Texas swept Northwestern State to advance in the NCAA tournament.

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Coming into Thursday night’s NCAA volleyball match, Texas had earned the top seed in the Minneapolis region while Northwestern State, at 16-16, was only there because it managed to win the Southland Conference Tournament.

But on the court, the match was played as closely as any late-round match can be played.

The Longhorns struggled to shake off the pesky Demons because of both Texas errors and strong play from the visitors, and each set was
a dogfight.

In the end, Texas got the sweep it needed to advance to a second-round date with Arizona State but left with some concerns.

“I told our team we’re going to have to play at a much
higher level than we did tonight to have a chance [against Arizona State],” head coach Jerritt Elliott said.

After the first few points of the match went according to plan, Northwestern State responded with a 6-1 run of its own to take a brief 7-6 lead. But, with the score 14-13 in favor of the Demons, senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman drilled two straight aces to give the Longhorns a 15-14 lead. Texas never looked back and won the set, 25-21, despite a .088
hitting percentage.

The second set was a near copy of the first. Texas took a 5-2 lead before Northwestern State made a run to take an 8-7 lead. Then, with a 13-10 lead, sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu hit two straight aces to put the set out of reach.

Elliott said the team did a much better job managing its game in the second set.

“We had 14 errors [in the first set], and when you make 14 errors, it’s always going to be close,” Elliott said. “We just talked about managing quality sets, and we felt like Northwestern State would have a hard time if we kept
our numbers.”

The third set was also similar to the first two, as the Longhorns jumped out to a 6-2 lead, only to have the Demons fight right back to tie the set, 13-13, a few minutes later. But, smelling the sweep with a 17-15 lead, Texas went on an 8-3 run, aided by five blocks, to close out the match with a 25-18 set win.

Although Texas walked out with a win, the Longhorns will have much to work on before the second-round match. Texas had 18 attack errors, seven service errors and only out-blocked Northwestern State seven to six.

The Longhorns will square off against Arizona State, which defeated Texas A&M, 3-1, on Thursday. 

“[Tonight] is going to be a big battle, and we’re going to have to perform at a much higher level,” Elliott said.

Sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu and sophomore outside hitter Paula Prieto Cerame fail to block a kill from No. 6 Florida.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Texas volleyball head coach Jerritt Elliott scheduled No. 6 Florida for the last regular season match to give the Longhorns one final challenge before the NCAA tournament.

Saturday afternoon, Elliott and the Longhorns found that challenge and more against the SEC champion Gators, capping off regular season play with their second loss.

Florida seemed to handle everything Texas threw at it: blocking, senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman on the service line and sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu up the middle. Executing a dominant fifth set, the Gators overpowered the Longhorns.

“I think Florida played extremely well,” Elliott said. “We just weren’t very efficient from the start from the service line or serve receive line. We made mistakes late in the games, but I think it’s something we can learn from and grow from and keep moving.”

The dogfight kicked off from the start as neither side built a lead of more than 2 points until Texas took a 10-8 lead behind a kill from sophomore outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame and an attack error by Florida. The Gators later took a 22-19 lead before the Longhorns fought back with a 5-0 run.

“It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but it was important to, obviously, win the first game and take control of the match,” Elliott said.

The second set, though, belonged to Florida. The Gators jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead and never looked back before stealing the set 25-20. In the set, the Longhorns were held to just a .125 hitting percentage — their lowest of the match.

The third set started as a role reversal of the second set, as Texas jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead. The Longhorns eventually found themselves with a 22-21 lead late in the set, but the Gators went on a 4-1 run to take the set 25-23.

Texas won the fourth set to keep the match alive but dropped a back-and-forth fifth set 15-12.

With the win, the Gators avenge their loss to the Longhorns earlier this season in Gainesville, Florida. Elliott said Florida — especially sophomore right side Alex Holston, who had 29 kills — was much improved this time around.

“I thought their defense was really good and their passing was exceptional,” Elliott said. “Their out-of-system game was just better, some of their pin hitters we couldn’t control.”

Texas has now lost two of its last three regular season finales. In 2012, Texas finished regular season play with a 3-2 loss at Iowa State and then went on to win the national championship.

Ogbogu said the loss will motivate the team in the tournament.

“I think, if anything, this is going to make us hungrier and realize that this year, anyone can win the national championship,” Ogbogu said.

The Longhorns received the No. 2 overall seed and the top in the Minneapolis Region in this year’s championship bracket. Texas will open against Northwestern State at home Thursday. The winner faces either Texas A&M or Arizona State on Friday.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

Smiles were wide, horns were up and the 2014 Big 12 trophy was in the Longhorn volleyball team’s hands as it celebrated its fourth-consecutive Big 12 Championship after sweeping Kansas on Saturday.

A week after clinching the title in a five-set thriller against Oklahoma, No. 3 Texas (22-1, 14-1 Big 12) finally got to celebrate its accomplishment. In front of a sold-out crowd in Gregory Gym, the Longhorns took care of business, downing Kansas in three sets (25-20, 25-23, 25-18). After the match, the Big 12 championship trophy was presented to the team along with commemorative T-shirts.

“[The trophy] means a lot,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It’s very hard to win when you play a double round robin and the way that we performed and had our backs against the walls some matches where we have come through. It takes a lot of work, and these girls have put the work in since the summer and stayed here and committed to themselves.”

Over the past two games, Texas was challenged early as it dropped the first set in each game. But the Longhorns found their stride early Saturday against the Jayhawks. While Kansas battled with Texas throughout the first set, the Longhorns overcame their first-set blues and claimed the opening set, 25-20.

“It’s always really important to be able to come out and execute at a high level,” Elliott said. “I just felt like they were ready to play today. … It’s the first time we really played consistently all the way through for a while, and it’s nice to see it this time of the year.”

The Jayhawks jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second set, but Texas went on an 8-1 run to claim an 8-4 lead. The Longhorns led for most of the set until Kansas came roaring back to take an 18-17 lead. The two sides fought back and forth, with Texas coming out on top, 25-23.

With momentum on their side, the Longhorns cruised to a 25-18 win in the third set and claimed their 14th sweep of the season.

Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman led the team in kills with nine. Junior middle blocker Molly McCage had seven kills and led the team with seven blocks. Khat Bell, senior middle blocker and outside hitter, and sophomore outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame both finished the match with seven kills.

Senior outside hitter Khat Bell and the Longhorns fight off a Baylor attacker during their match in Waco on Wednesday night.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

At first glance, the Longhorns’ volleyball record shows they’re well on their way to another run at the national championship.

With a 21-1 record — the lone loss coming at home against Oklahoma — and its fourth Big 12 championship already in hand, Texas appears set to contend for its second NCAA title in three years. But on a closer look, specifically the last four matches, there’s a troubling trend the Longhorns are looking to end before the tournament rolls around. 

The Longhorns have dropped the first set in three of their last four matches, and, in two of those, the first sets haven’t even been close.

“We’ve got to come out better in game one,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We’ve got to be able to get everyone playing on the same night.”

In each of those first set losses, the Longhorns have struggled to take control of the match early, posting only a combined .159 hitting percentage. Meanwhile, their opponents in those matches, which include Oklahoma and Kansas State, have posted a hitting percentage of .316 and outscored Texas by an average of five points in the first set.

“I think the dynamics about the first set [have to change] and just coming out strong and just knowing that every team is going to play their best against us no matter who it is,” senior outside hitter Khat Bell said.

Once the first set passes, however, the Longhorns have returned to their dominant ways. Texas outscored Kansas State and Baylor by an average of 8 points and posted a .253 hitting percentage while holding them to just a .088 hitting percentage.

Still, Elliott knows they have to come out ready to play right from the start, especially against tougher teams.

The Longhorns likely won’t be able to afford a similar start to their match Saturday against a Kansas team that’s looking to solidify itself for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.

The Jayhawks come into the match tied for second in the Big 12 and riding a three-match winning streak, which includes a sweep of in-state rival Kansas State. They also received votes in the latest AVCA rankings. Kansas is  second in the conference in opponent hitting percentage and first in assists and kills per set.

Kansas also boasts three of the top four hitters in terms of hitting percentages in the conference. Freshman middle blocker Kelsie Payne leads the Jayhawks with a .362 hitting percentage, while fellow freshman middle blocker Kayla Cheadle and sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie are right behind with hitting percentages of .354 and .331, respectively.

Following the match against Kansas, Texas will close out the Big 12 season at TCU on Wednesday and then face Florida at Gregory Gym in a nonconference battle on Nov. 29 before the NCAA tournament.

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

WACO — For the third time in the last four matches, the No. 3 Longhorns found themselves in trouble after the first set.

The upset-minded Baylor Bears (14-15, 4-10) held the Longhorns to a .136 hitting percentage while drilling 16 kills in the process.

But, as they had at Oklahoma and at home against Kansas State, Texas took the momentum back with a big second set and held off the Bears in a 3-1 win at the Ferrell Center on Wednesday night.

“We came out sluggish,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I thought we did a good job blocking and giving ourselves a chance and had some players really step up tonight.”

The Longhorns (21-1, 13-1 Big 12) came out flat in the first set. After tying the match at 9, Texas allowed Baylor to take control of the match with back-to-back attack errors to give the Bears a 12-9 lead. Baylor took full advantage of the opportunity, going on a 5-0 run later to take a 19-12 lead, finishing off the set with a 25-21 win.

Elliott said that they have to improve their mentality and routines in order to reverse the first set trend.

“We’ve got to understand that teams are going to come out and play well,” Elliott said. “We’ve got to not get back on our heels.”

Texas came out in the second set on a mission, looking to regain the momentum. After another back-and-forth start to the set, the Longhorns took control of the match with a 10-3 run, caused by three kills by junior middle blocker Molly McCage and four attack errors by the Bears.

“It was a big move for us,” senior outside hitter Khat Bell said. “It showed courage, and it showed how much trust we have within our team.”

The Longhorns continued that dominance into the third set. Coming out of the intermission, Texas jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, then built upon it a little later with a 3-0 run to take a 13-6 lead in the set. Sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu finished off the set with kills in two of the last three points as the Longhorns took a 2-1 lead in the match.

Texas finished out the match with a fourth set similar to the previous two. The Longhorns jumped out to a 10-6 lead, forcing a Baylor timeout, and never looked back, winning the set 25-19.

Bell led the Longhorns with 14 kills while Ogbogu finished with 11 kills. The Texas block also had a big night with 16 total blocks.

Bell said they’re going to have to work on coming out stronger in the first set during those three matches before the NCAA tournament begins.

“It’s mine and Haley [Eckerman’s] last go around, so we have to start strong and finish strong,” Bell said.