“La Decima.” What may simply mean “the tenth one” to others now holds a special meaning for the No. 6 Texas Longhorns.
Texas’ 3-0 sweep of UTSA improved its all-time record against the Roadrunners to a perfect 10–0 as the Longhorns took care of business in their final match before conference play begins.
With the win, the Longhorns improve to 8–2 overall on the season, but this victory didn’t come easily, despite the final scoreboard suggesting otherwise.
“I don’t feel like we’ve been great,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We’ve got to buckle down and be good for long periods of time.”
Both teams matched each other point-for-point to begin the first set before Texas rode an 11-4 run to increase its advantage from 8-7 to 19-11. Texas never ceded the lead, and closed out the set with a comfortable 25-18 margin of victory.
The Longhorns benefitted from strong offensive play in the first set, with sophomore outside hitter Micaya White adding five kills to spark Texas’ run.
“We just need to play like that all the time,” senior libero Cat McCoy said. “(Our play) just runs so smoothly, (with) everyone doing their jobs.”
A 5-0 spurt provided the Longhorns an early advantage at the beginning of the second set, but the Roadrunners’ relentless attack helped them claw back into the game, utilizing a 7-0 run to capture a 12-10 lead.
Five kills from UTSA junior outside hitter Marijeta Runjic pushed the Roadrunners to a set point against Texas, but a 3-0 sequence from the Longhorns concluded the set. Texas topped off the run with an emphatic kill from junior outside hitter Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani to seal a 26-24 victory in the frame.
“(Coming from behind) says a lot about the toughness of the whole team,” McCoy said. “I’m really proud of the way we fought back.”
With its back against the wall yet again, Texas’ point-at-a-time philosophy worked to its advantage at the end of that second set. A kill by Bedart-Ghani at set point tied the score at 24, and that scoring play snowballed into her set-clinching kill to gain a critical 2-0 lead in the match.
“Our energy levels, how we play the game (and) moving the ball was at a much higher level at the end of those games,” Elliott said.
The Longhorns faced a similar situation again in the third set, finding themselves in a 22-17 hole late in the frame. Requiring another comeback, Texas strung together eight straight points, highlighted by a kill from team captain Chiaka Ogbogu, to seal the deal in front of a program record crowd of 2,711 in San Antonio.
When entering a road environment, the Longhorns have become accustomed to opposing crowds showing up in numbers to rally behind their team. Although Texas took home the victory, this proved to be one of many tough battles the Longhorns can expect to encounter away from Gregory Gym throughout non-conference play.
“We’ve been on the road in a lot of crazy environments,” McCoy said. “It’s just a good way to test us over the season, and it’s really going to help us later on in the year.”
The Longhorns will kick off their conference schedule against West Virginia in Morgantown on Sept. 23. First serve is set for 12 p.m.