Logan's run: Texas' Eggleston set for one final shot at the NCAA volleyball championship
Picture a freshman Logan Eggleston. She's 17 years old, more reserved and less inclined to speak out. She has graduated from high school early and is hungry to win a national championship, and she believes playing volleyball at Texas will help her reach that goal.
Eggleston, now a senior, is Texas' team captain. Her teammate, setter Jhenna Gabriel, has dubbed her "your next president." Of course, Eggleston stars on the court, too. The 6-foot-2 outside hitter earned first-team All-American honors last season and was the Big 12's player of the year. She was the Big 12's freshman of the year back in 2018.
That 17-year-old girl who graduated early and left her home in Tennessee to play for Texas has evolved into a college athlete who's not afraid of hard conversations with teammates and who advocates for issues she believes in. She has changed since she arrived on campus from Brentwood, Tenn., but her hunger for a championship has remained constant.
Last season's NCAA title match loss to Kentucky only fueled that desire.
“I think the way it ended was all the motivation we needed because we were so close and we knew that it was this 1% margin that set us apart and the outcome would have been different,” Eggleston said.
She said she cried after that April loss at the Final Four in Omaha, Neb. That next day, when the Longhorns were back in Austin, Eggleston enjoyed a pool party with her teammates to celebrate their long pandemic season.
But once the tears were wiped away and the fun was over, it was time to get back to work — on life ventures, not just volleyball. During the first half of the summer, she said she worked out with her teammates and took classes to start preparing for graduation. A business student, she also had an internship with a management consulting firm, where she did note-taking and other behind-the-scenes work.
Eggleston describes herself as a leader and role model off the court. The senior is active on campus and, along with the rest of her team, advocated for the Black Lives Matter movement last fall in a video for which she co-wrote the script with teammate Asjia O'Neal.
But for now, volleyball is still at the center.
No. 1 Texas will open its season on Friday against No. 20 San Diego at Gregory Gym, a high-energy venue that hasn't hosted college volleyball since 2019. The Longhorns played all their home matches last season at the larger, more spacious Erwin Center because of the pandemic.
The Longhorns return virtually everyone from last year's team, including opposite hitter Ashley Fields, Gabriel and middle blockers Brionne Butler, O'Neal and Molly Phillips. Fields and O'Neal were honorable mention All-Americans. Butler, like Eggleston, was a first-teamer.
It was a short offseason. The 2020 season ended in April after a grueling fall and spring slate that packed two seasons' worth of volleyball into one. Texas went 14-0 — all Big 12 matchups — from September through November and took a 23-1 record into the NCAAs after the season resumed in February. The Longhorns tore through Wright State, No. 13 Penn State and No. 5 Nebraska to get to the Final Four and swept No. 1 Wisconsin in the national semifinals.
Eggleston said the 25-20, 18-25, 23-25, 22-25 loss to Kentucky in the championship match alone was enough to motivate her for one more season. But so are the people with whom she spends most of her time, she said: her teammates.
“Every single day in the gym we are so loud and just so competitive,” she said.
“We’re just screaming at each other and getting into each other’s faces and in the best way possible.”
She said interacting with her teammates, all from various backgrounds, has taught her about being a leader — how to communicate and listen. Eggleston said she also enjoys being a helper and making sure people feel comfortable.
More outspoken than she was entering college, Eggleston uses her leadership skills when interacting with her younger sister, Shaye Eggleston, a fellow outside hitter who is starting her own college career at Alabama. The senior said her sister is competing for a starting spot, so she’s there to give her advice.
“My biggest thing that I’ve been telling her is just to have fun because when you’re playing volleyball and you’re having fun and you remember why you enjoy what you’re doing, that’s when you play your best volleyball,” she said.
Texas was swept by BYU in the Elite Eight her freshman year. And the Longhorns were stunned at Gregory by Louisville in their 2019 NCAA opener. Last season, Texas came up one match short of a championship.
Entering her final season, Eggleston is still reaching for that national title, something past Texas teams have done twice before.
It’s why, out of all the schools she could have attended to play volleyball, a younger version of herself chose Texas, which won it all in 2012 and has been to nine Final Fours and five championship matches since 2008.
“This was the place I wanted to do it with the people that I wanted to be surrounded with,” Eggleston said.