A look at the four teams competing in this week’s first- and second-round matches in Austin:
NCAA appearance: 32nd
Coach: Jerritt Elliott, 15th year (374-87)
Top players: OH Amy Neal (385 kills), MB Chiaka Ogbogu (.415), MB Molly McCage (0.97 blocks)
About the Longhorns: The five-time defending Big 12 champions are seeded No. 3 nationally and are seeking their fourth straight Final Four appearance. This season has gone smoother than many expected it would after top newcomers Micaya White and Ebony Nwanebu were lost with injuries. Neal was the Big 12’s player of the year, and the Longhorns haven’t lost since Oct. 28.
NCAA appearance: 8th
Coach: Todd Kress, sixth year (134-66)
Top players: OH Skyler Day (411 kills), MB Megan O’Sullivan (0.95 blocks), OH Megan Theiller (327 kills)
About the Stags: Fairfield has won 12 straight matches, dating back to Oct. 18. The Stags won the Metro Atlantic tournament, where Theiller was named the most outstanding player. Of note, freshman Chanel Cooper, of Richardson, is the daughter of former UT basketball player Carlton Cooper, the Longhorns’ leading scorer and rebounder in 1983-84.
NCAA appearance: 17th
Coach: Dave Shondell, 13th year (281-150)
Top players: OH Annie Drews (4.26 kills per set), MB Faye Adelaja (2.34 kills, 0.89 blocks), MB Danielle Cuttino (2.04 kills, 1.19 blocks)
About the Boilermakers: Purdue, ranked 17th nationally, went 13-7 in the difficult Big Ten. That included a five-set upset of Minnesota (the No. 2 national seed). This is the 10th NCAA berth in the last 12 years; in all 10 of those years, Purdue got past the first round.
NCAA appearance: 1st
Coach: Lisa Seifert, 20th year (312-273)
Top players: S Avery Acker (12.53 sets), L Morgan Heise (6.14 digs), MB Janelle Giordano (.394)
About the Mustangs: SMU got here by going 17-3 to win the American Athletic Conference. Acker, a senior from Poth and the AAC’s player of the year, leads the country in assists. There’s local flavor, too — Cai
llin Bula (Westlake) is second on the team in kills, Brittany Adams (St. Stephen’s) averages 2.07 digs and Aubry Hinners (Westlake) also is on the roster.
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