In front of a packed house of just more than 3,000 fans — the most ever for a Baylor volleyball game — at Waco’s Ferrell Center, No. 4 Texas had to fight to earn its third-consecutive Big 12 victory 3-1.
The Longhorns (9-2, 3-0 Big 12) opened up the game strong with a dominant first set on both sides of the net. Sophomore middle blocker Molly McCage tallied a team-high four kills on just six attempts while Texas outhit Baylor .400-.094 en route to a 25-17 Game 1 win.
Despite the dominance, Texas allowed Baylor to make the opening set closer than it actually was, committing a few late errors before eventually snagging the game. The sloppy play carried over to the start of the second frame as Baylor jumped out to a commanding 13-9 lead.
“We just weren’t managing our game, and we’ve got to make better decisions as far as good swings versus bad swings,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said.
With the momentum heavily on the Bears’ side, Texas dug deep to secure an 11-2 run led by four service aces from junior outside hitter Haley Eckerman. Baylor responded with a 5-0 run of its own but Texas held on for a 25-21 set win.
After falling behind early in the third frame 9-4, the Longhorns rallied to tie the game at 13. The end of the set was a back and forth battle but Baylor closed it on a 4-1 run to capture a
“I think in the third sets we usually get a little relaxed and teams tend to come back and want to win that set,” freshman middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu said. “We played at the same level in the second set, but they just had a little more intensity.”
Texas wasted no time establishing the tempo in the fourth set, jumping out to a 14-9 lead before a 7-4 run made it 21-14. The Bears did their best to push Texas to the brink and a fifth set, but the Longhorns proved too much taking the set 25-19.
“The third set was probably one of our worst all season,” Elliott said. “I thought they rose to the challenge and they competed, and that’s part of the game. It’s unfortunate, but you have to be perfect on both sides of the ball.”
Eckerman led Texas with 15 kills as Texas outhit Baylor .299-.211 in the contest and won the block battle 11-7. Ogbogu continued her clutch play as she notched 10 total kills including three in the
“I know how good of a team we are and our opponents especially do,” Ogbogu said. “We had already won two sets so I felt like I had to come in and be really confident and keep swinging knowing my setters were gonna trust me.”
With a 3-0 start in conference play, the battle-tested Longhorns will take on LSU on Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge.
“We just need to stay consistent,” Elliott said. “But I think we’re doing things better for longer stretches of time than we’ve done earlier in the season.”