Texas Sweeps Louisville in NCAA Volleyball Championships
The University of Texas Volleyball team is used to being the top team in the country, but recently, they have struggled to translate this into a National Championship. After a 10-year wait, Texas has finally won the program’s third NCAA title. Texas completed their run with a 28-1 record, with their only loss being to Iowa State, and they dominated the NCAA tournament.
Texas entered the 2022 NCAA Volleyball tournament as the number 1 seed overall and hosted the Austin regional. The team swept Fairleigh Dickinson and Georgia in the first and second rounds, and they only dropped one set each to Marquette and Ohio State to clinch their regional. In the Final Four match against San Diego, Texas dropped the first set but rallied to win 3-1. Then at the NCAA Championship match on December 17 at the CHI Health Center Arena in Omaha, Nebraska, Texas swept Louisville 25-22, 25-14, 26-24 with a dominant offensive performance. Louisville put pressure on Texas in the third set, but Texas persevered and won the game.
The Louisville Cardinals opened up strong with a 3-0 scoring run, but Texas quickly grabbed the lead back with a 4-0 scoring run. Texas reached 15 points first due to a service error by Aiko Jones. Louisville stayed in it with back-to-back kills by Claire Chaussee and three consecutive service errors by Texas. However, the Longhorns reached set point due to a service error by Chaussee, and Eggleston ended the first set at 25-22 with a kill.
Texas continued their momentum into the second set by opening with a 3-0 score run. The Cardinals called a timeout down 11-6 to try and regroup. However, Texas continued to dominate at went up to 15-7 which prompted another Louisville timeout. Louisville came out of the timeout and scored four straight points, which then caused Texas to take a timeout. Texas then regrouped and won the set 25-14.
With their backs against the wall, Louisville fought back and took the lead in the third set 7-6. Both teams went back and forth until a kill from Anna DeBeer gave Louisville the lead of 15-14 for the media timeout. Then Texas went on a 6-1 score run with three kills and a block all by Madisen Skinner. Louisville then came back and tied the set 21-21, and then kills by Chaussee and DeBeer brought them to their first set point 24-22. After calling a timeout, Asjia O'Neal made a clutch kill for Texas, and a Chaussee miss tied the set at 24-24. Texas then won the third and final set due to a Louisville net violation and then an ace by Keonilei Akana.
AVCA Player of the Year Logan Eggleston had an impressive 19 kills in the championship match including 10 kills in just the first set and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the match. She also had a hitting percentage of .341, and overall, the Longhorns out-hit the Cardinals 371 to .189. Eggleston’s five-year career at Texas came to a close with an outstanding performance and finally winning the National Championship.
“I'm just so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to have a fifth year and come back and to get to play with these girls,” Eggleston said. “Yeah, it's a lot more fun to not be crying sad tears at the end of the season. We can actually say we won our last game. It feels amazing.”
Madisen Skinner was a member of the Kentucky team that defeated Texas in the 2020 National Championship match, but then she transferred to Texas after two seasons at Kentucky. Although she was playing with many of the same players she defeated two years earlier, Skinner won her second NCAA title with 12 kills and a hitting percentage of .407.
“It was a matter of us being confident there and knowing what we can do,” Skinner said after the match. “It was just really a matter of us calming our nerves and playing Texas volleyball.”
After a ten-year wait, head coach Jerritt Elliott won his second National Championship and the third one for Texas overall. Elliott is now the 10th NCAA Volleyball coach to win multiple National Championships. The Texas Longhorns finally got it done thanks to perseverance and an incredible performance under pressure.