With a longtime rival in their house Wednesday night, the Longhorns got out their broom.
Paulina Prieto Cerame’s 16 kills led No. 2 Texas to a 3-0 win (25-21, 25-18, 25-21) over 16th-ranked Texas A&M in front of nearly 4,000 fans at Gregory Gym. The sweep gave Texas (8-1) its fifth straight win over the Aggies as they head into Sunday’s showdown with No. 6 Wisconsin.
Texas improved to 73-23 all-time against A&M, with 38 of those wins coming at home. The series had been on hiatus since 2013.
“I didn’t think that I was going to be able to be part of that rivalry and that game, but it was definitely a great night,” said Prieto Cerame, a senior outside hitter who was playing at Penn State during Texas and Texas A&M’s last meeting. “Our crowd was awesome, and I think we did a really good job of keeping the emotions in lock even though they were really high.”
The first set featured 12 ties, but Texas pulled away after taking a 19-18 lead on an A&M error. Prieto Cerame guided Texas to its 25-21 win with seven kills on 11 shots. She also added an ace.
Prieto Cerame registered her 10th kill midway through the second set, and finished with 16, tying her season high. It was the seventh time she has had double-digit kills this season.
“Paulina’s awesome; she just brings a fire every time she comes on the court,” said senior setter Chloe Collins, who finished with 35 assists. “When she’s on fire, she’s on fire.”
The second set of Wednesday’s match — which Texas won, 25-18 — was never in doubt as seven of the set’s first eight points were awarded to the Longhorns. Texas A&M built a three-point lead in the evening’s final set, but the Longhorns put the Aggies away with a late 5-0 run that featured freshman Autumn Rounsaville on the service line.
Ebony Nwanebu added 11 kills and Micaya White had 10.
Texas A&M, which got 27 assists from Round Rock product Stephanie Aiple, dropped to 6-4. After Sunday’s match with the sixth-ranked Badgers, Texas will open Big 12 play on Tuesday, at West Virginia.
“Every match, we’re preparing to compete and get better going into Big 12,” Collins said. “Our freshmen are really rocked up about Big 12 play, so I think it’s going to be really fun.”