If you would have predicted a year ago that Logan Eggleston would have opened the 2018 postseason with a match-high 14 kills, Brentwood High would have gladly accepted that prognostication.
Eggleston, however, isn’t a Bruin anymore and these aren’t Tennessee’s state playoffs. Having skipped her senior year of high school, Eggleston was instead playing in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night. Led by its freshman outside hitter, Texas opened its postseason run with a 25-14, 25-17, 25-21 sweep of Stephen F. Austin.
The sweep in Gregory Gym ends Stephen F. Austin’s nation-leading 29-match winning streak. It also advances the Longhorns (21-4) to play Texas State (27-6) in the second round.
“It was just fun to come in and play,” Eggleston said. “There were a lot of nerves, but I think we all came in playing super competitive. It was super exciting and exactly what I thought it was going to be like.”
Stephen F. Austin grabbed a 6-3 lead in the opening set, but Texas sprinted past the Ladyjacks with a 13-3 run. The Longhorns then closed out the opening stanza by scoring seven straight points. Junior Micaya White had six kills in the set while Eggleston had a four-kill barrage during UT’s first run.
White and Eggleston swapped stats in the second sets — White had four kills that set while Eggleston had six — and UT never trailed after taking a 3-2 lead. As it entered the third set, SFA middle blocker Danae Daron said, “we knew if this was going to be our last set, it might as well be our best set.” The Ladyjacks kept things close, but Texas used a few Ladyjack miscues and kills from four different players to pull away down the stretch.
“We just played our game (in the third set),” White said.
In the victory, the Longhorns got 12 kills from White and 11 kills from senior Yaazie Bedart-Ghani. Freshman Jhenna Gabriel paced the UT offense with 38 assists. Texas coach Jerritt Elliott thought that Gabriel set well for most of the match, but he replaced her with Ashley Shook midway through the third set with his team needing an “emotional charge.” Until she was subbed out on Halloween, Shook had been UT’s starting setter since the start of the 2017 season.
One of Shook’s four assists was distributed to Eggleston. A 6-2 outside hitter, Eggleston had only one attacking error over her 22 attempts. Eggleston was named the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year earlier this week.
“Watching Logan grow in this program has been exciting,” White said. “She doesn’t let any size or anyone intimidate her. She goes after it. You should see her in the gym. She plays way older than what she is.”
Led by the 6-3 Morgan Johnson and the 6-4 Brionne Butler, Texas gathered eight team blocks. SFA was held to a .063 hitting percentage. Texas, on the other hand, hit .336.
“They’ve got great players. We’ve got good, solid players as well,” Ladyjack coach Debbie Humphreys said. “We just are not playing the game as high above the net.”
The tournament-opening domination was nothing new for Texas. The Longhorns are 32-0 in their all-time appearances in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Since it last missed the postseason in 2003, Texas has won its last 45 first-round sets.
Texas and Texas State will return to Gregory Gym at 8 p.m. on Friday. Back in early September, Texas swept the Bobcats behind a 10-kill, 10-dig effort from White.