“Last” Year In Longhorn Volleyball
In 2019, Texas spent much of the regular season showing that they were still a force in college volleyball. They dropped two five set matches in non-conference play, one against Stanford, the other against Rice of all teams. They ripped through the Big XII, only dropping another fifth set in Waco against Baylor, until being bounced out of the NCAA Tournament by Louisville in the Sweet 16 in...yup, another five sets. Texas went 1-4 in five set matches and perfect otherwise.
2021 Longhorn Volleyball
The 2020 Big XII champions (just all sorts of asterisks on the year) went undefeated in their fall session, including a pair of 3-2 wins against Baylor in Austin to help exorcise that demon. To prep for the NCAA Tournament, Texas scheduled 10 games against regional competition. Their undefeated season came to an end at the hands of a five set match against, are you serious here, Rice.
Why does Texas play Rice? Not because it is easy, but because it is difficult.
In 27 games this season, Texas has hit over .300 a total of 20 times. There’s hope for the Badgers though. Four of those other seven games were against Baylor, the only team on the Longhorn’s schedule that is close to Wisconsin’s level.
That offensive firepower is concentrated in two outside hitters, junior Logan Eggleston and sophomore Skylar Fields. Eggleston’s taken an incredible 1018 total swings, racking up 430 kills against only 101 errors. She’s the more even-keel attacker, compared Fields’ feast-or-famine style. Fields went off against Nebraska last match, going 18-1-27 for a massive .630 attack, but in their loss to Rice she had a weak 6-2-21.
Texas rotates in three middle blockers regularly, all of whom can land kills efficiently as well as block at a impressive level. Brionne Butler’s 1.56 blocks a set is just a touch behind Rettke’s 1.60, but Butler has two teammates behind her in the leader board before Devyn Robinson makes an appearance.
If there’s a vulnerability to be found, it’s in Texas’s digging. Now, it’s entirely possible that balls just don’t make it to the back row because of how often the block works, but the Longhorn digs as often in their matches as their opponents. Current libero and former Illini Morgan O’Brien leads the team, but is ninth in the nine-team Big XII volleyball individual dig stats leader board. (Get it together Oklahoma State!)
O’Brien also carries another important distinction as the first person I can remember seeing someone have more service aces than errors on the season with any sort of volume. Texas serves aggressively, getting 1.64 aces a set.
Prior Game Info
I still get goosebumps from this radio call.
When you switch jobs, I highly recommend mid-November as a start date. You get a week of on-boarding, then Thanksgiving. Then, there’s the holiday party. For this specific reference, my job rented out the Ivory Room on State on Thursday, Dec 19th, 2013. Now, there’s no TV’s in a piano bar, but you cut through the bathroom with your Irish coffee to the Buck ‘N Badger and catch the college volleyball bug.
Elsewhere In The Conference
No. 2 Kentucky swept No. 7 Purdue into the dumpster. Big Blue Nation takes on the No. 6 Washington Huskies in the matinee Thursday. The higher you go on the mountain, the less room there is.