Texas sophomore Skylar Fields (5) pushes the ball over a wall of Baylor defenders during a volleyball match in Austin on Nov. 5, 2020. (Rodolfo Gonzalez For Statesman )

Volleyball

No. 1 Texas falls into a 2-0 hole, but remains unbeaten by rallying past No. 3 Baylor

Posted November 5th, 2020

Advertisement

You figure there aren’t many arguments that Texas volleyball coach Jerritt Elliott loses to his players.

Elliott, after all, was hired at Texas only a few months after star outside hitter Logan Eggleston was born. But Thursday night, it was Eggleston adamantly disagreeing with her coach in a key moment — down two sets to Baylor, all tied up 21-21 in the third.

Eggleston wanted Elliott to challenge a call on her kill attempt that had just been ruled out. Elliott didn’t think she was correct.

Advertisement

Still, he challenged the call anyway — and won. Point, Eggleston.

After the match, Eggleston said it “felt good to win that one.” Know what else felt good? Beating Baylor.

Texas players celebrate a point against in Austin on Nov. 5, 2020. (Rodolfo Gonzalez For Statesman )

That overturned call turned out to be a pivotal point in No. 1-ranked Texas’ 23-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-13, 15-9 come-from-behind win over third-ranked Baylor at the Erwin Center. With the win, the undefeated Longhorns (11-0) widened their lead over the Bears (11-2) in the Big 12 race. They will play again Friday night.

“Baylor came out playing like crazy, crazy good, so it feels really good just to be able to keep our composure on our side and just come back and find a way to win,” Eggleston said. “Everyone did a really great job of picking up their responsibilities and (we) ended up with a nice win.”

Before Thursday, Baylor hadn’t won a set against the Longhorns in Austin since 2012. And the Bears hadn’t won two sets in Austin since 2006. But the Bears accomplished both to open the match as Yossiana Pressley went off for 18 kills.

In the third set, Baylor was closing in on a sweep when Eggleston’s shot was ruled to have gone long without being touched at the net.

Then a switch flipped.

After his players pleaded for a review, Elliott challenged the call. Officials, after consulting a video replay, overruled their call, flipping the score from 22-21 for Baylor to 22-21 in favor of Texas. The Horns followed up that point with an ace from Sydney Petersen to go up 23-21, and 5-8 setter Jhenna Gabriel’s sixth kill of the season later made it a 24-22 game. A thunderous swing by Asjia O’Neal closed the set and kept Texas in the match.

Elliott later admitted that he didn’t think he’d win the challenge, but said he protested the call because he had two challenges to spare.

“I even told Logan that there was no touch and then gave her a fist bump afterwards when she was right,” Elliott said. “That’s why I wear glasses, I guess.”

Texas sprinted out to a 14-3 lead in what would be a 12-point win in the fourth frame. Baylor scored the opening point of the decisive fifth set, but that would be the Bears’ last lead of the night.

The Longhorns have dropped only five sets all season, but Thursday’s win was UT’s second significant comeback. Texas also rallied from a 2-1 deficit at Kansas State in October.

“Obviously, winning in three is something that’s super fun. But I think going to five and battling and really pulling everything we can out of ourselves really gives the team confidence and just allows us to see how good of a team we can be,” O’Neal said. “These tight five-set matches are something that we always live for.”

Defensively, Texas held Baylor to -.071 and .118 hitting percentages in the fourth and fifth sets. Texas got 15 total digs from both Eggleston and freshman Nalani Iosia, who was making her first start at libero. About an hour before the match, regular libero Morgan O’Brien announced on Twitter that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

With O’Brien — a graduate transfer from Illinois who’s averaging 3.97 digs per set — in isolation, Elliott recalibrated the UT lineup. Iosia shifted to libero and fellow freshman Reilly Heinrich, a defensive specialist, got more playing time.

“They did a really good job of just coming out and just playing their game and not getting frazzled and not thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve never played Baylor before. This is my first time playing in such a big match,'” Eggleston said. “You couldn’t even tell.”

Notes: Eggleston led Texas with 22 kills. Skylar Fields (14), O’Neal (13) and Brionne Butler (10) added double-digit kills. … Pressley, the Big 12’s reigning player of the year, had a match-high 29 kills. … Pressley’s 29 kills were a season high, and her most since 31 kills against Texas on Nov. 20, 2019. … Texas and Baylor will return to the Erwin Center at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Comments