After his Texas volleyball team concluded a difficult 10-day stretch featuring two road games and back-to-back ranked opponents with an impressive 25-16, 25-17, 25-18 home win over Iowa State on Saturday night, coach Jerritt Elliott’s next goal is finding some down time for his players.
Three days earlier, the visiting Longhorns defeated No. 9 Kansas in five sets. The team didn’t arrive back in Austin until around 2:30 a.m. Thursday. Elliott realized that his players, despite the recent grind of travel and games, needed a good day of practice in preparation for the Cyclones (12-4, 3-3).
“One of my concerns was that we were goring 10 days straight. The emotional side catches up to you sometimes,” Elliott said after UT’s three-set victory in front of a Gregory Gym crowd announced at 3,943. “But we came out and played well. It seems like we’re playing better for longer stretches and learning how to concentrate for longer periods of time.”
“We’ve been on the road for awhile,” said senior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu, who recorded a match-high 11 kills. “We had a good game at TCU. We knew (Kansas) was going to be a really big match. I think that just gave us the confidence that we can have so much thrown at us and we can still succeed.
“The atmosphere on the court was not as it was the first two sets,” Nwanebu continued. “As a team, we decided to turn it around. So we started going hard like we did the first two sets. I think that’s what really changed the momentum. As it went on, we got better and better with our energy level and our aggressiveness.
“It was time to stop playing around.”
Texas (14-2, 6-0 Big 12) , the fifth-ranked team in the AVCA’s national poll, trailed No. 23 Iowa State 4-0 to open the third set, prompting Elliott to call time out.
“He told us to settle down and not get frantic and panic or anything,” said freshman outside hitter Lexi Sun, who recorded nine kills.
Down 9-5, the Longhorns scored seven consecutive points and led 12-9. When Iowa State reeled off the next three points, and with the teams then tied at 13-13, the Longhorns took control for good, tallying eight of the next nine points.
Texas broke open the first set after Iowa State scored three consecutive points to pull within 16-14. The Longhorns’ turnaround occurred after Elliott also called tim eout.
The Longhorns responded by scoring the next seven points.
Sophomore outside hitter Micaya White led Texas with 14 digs and added seven kills. Senior libero Cat McCoy contributed 11 digs.