As the second week of the NCAA soccer tournament gets underway, Texas will attempt to extend its season.
The Longhorns (14-3-2) play Clemson (10-5-3) on Friday in a second-round match at Duke’s Koskinen Stadium in Durham, N.C. If victorious, UT would next meet either the host Blue Devils or Big 12 rival Oklahoma State on Sunday.
Back in the second round for the first time since 2014, Texas is coming off a 3-0 beating of North Texas. Two of those goals were tallied by forward Cyera Hintzen, who also scored the only goal in UT’s 1-0 win over the Mean Green in August.
The two-goal performance was another highlight for Hintzen in what has been a stellar sophomore season. She has scored nine goals, which ranks second in the Big 12. She also has a team-high five assists, which is tied with West Virginia’s Michaela Abam for the conference lead in points.
“She’s naturally becoming a leader without even realizing it,” Texas coach Angela Kelly said. “Her performance this year has just been world-class. I think the national team staff is well aware, and I just told them they can take all the looks at Cyera Hintzen they want in December.”
Hintzen missed the first five matches last year with a leg injury, but was still named the Big 12’s freshman of the year. (Teammate Haley Berg won that award this season). Hintzen earned that honor despite scoring only two goals and no assists.
One year later, she has far exceeded that 2016 statistical production.
“This is the expectation for Cyera,” Kelly said. “This year, she’s been ready to go from the get-go. I’m not surprised in the least.”
Going the (longer) distance: The men’s and women’s cross country teams will run in Saturday’s NCAA championships in Louisville. UT is familiar with the layout at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park since it ran at the Pre-Nationals Invitational there on Oct. 14. The women finished 26th at the 6,000-meter race, and Saturday’s championship course will follow a similar setup. The men’s race, however, has tacked on 2,000 additional meters to the 8,000-meter race the men logged in their seventh-place showing last month.
This will be only the second 10,000-meter race for Texas this fall. The men also ran that distance at last week’s South Central Regional Championships.
Final homecoming: No. 2 Texas secured a share of the Big 12 volleyball championship on Wednesday with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-16 sweep of No. 16 Kansas at Gregory Gym. In defeat, senior outside hitter Kelsie Payne led Kansas with her 13 kills. Fellow senior Madison Rigdon didn’t start but contributed eight kills in her first match since Oct. 28.
Payne and Rigdon, respectively, attended nearby Connally and Pflugerville high schools.
UT coach Jerritt Elliott did not recruit Rigdon, but he did coach her on USA Volleyball’s Collegiate Thailand Tour this past summer. Earlier this week, he described her as “a quality young woman … and she’s a really good player.” Rigdon is third on KU’s all-time aces list; only eight Jayhawks have more career kills.
Payne needs 14 kills to become the school’s all-time leader, and the 2016 Big 12 player of the year will boast one of KU’s top career hitting percentages. Texas showed moderate recruiting interest in Payne, but Elliott eventually filled out his 2014 class with libero Cat McCoy and middle blocker Mirta Baselovic.
“Obviously, she’s showing us the kind of player that she’d turn out to be,” Elliott said.