After reeling off nine consecutive victories, Texas has once again reached the top of the mountain.
The Longhorns received 44 of the 60 first place votes in the most recent American Volleyball Coaches association poll, reclaiming the No. 1 ranking for the first time since beginning the season in the same spot.
After topping Iowa State this past weekend, No. 1 Texas increased its conference winning streak to six, giving it a two game lead in the Big 12. The Longhorns eclipsed a .300 hitting percentage for the fifth time this season in that game, showing off an offense that is finding its rhythm.
“For us it was a very important match. Iowa State only had one loss in conference, so to be able to get a two-game separation at this point in the season was very important for us,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “Our team was pretty resilient and came back. We need to be put in these situations where everything isn’t so smooth.”
An important piece for the dominant Texas offense is junior outside hitter Haley Eckerman, who struggled a bit coming into the match with the Cyclones. 14 kills and three service aces later, Eckerman proved why she is a perennial Player of the Year candidate.
“I was proud of how Haley played,” Elliott said. “She’s continued to get more consistent in our program. She’s obviously got a lot of responsibilities off the court and we know that she’s going to get there.”
Although the Iowa State game snapped the Longhorns’ six-game streak of tallying more total kills than their opponents, the team is still outhitting opponents by an average of .077 points this season. Senior outside hitter Bailey Webster, currently ranked first on the team in kills with 198, surpassed Eckerman in offensive output over the last few contests.
Freshmen Chloe Collins also increased her role over the last few conference games, as Collins notched a career-high four kills and led the team with 29 assists and three blocks against the Cyclones.
West Virginia will enter the match with a 2-4 Big 12 record and a total hitting percentage of just .202. The Mountaineers are 9-2 at home this season and have won the error battle 78-95 against opponents this season.
Texas averages 14.2 errors per match in conference play this season, which will play directly into West Virginia’s defensive style if the Longhorns cannot find consistent offense.
If the offense can continue its pace, the top-ranked Longhorns will leave Morgantown on Wednesday night with their tenth straight victory.