After defeating No. 10 Florida last weekend in front of a crowd of nearly 5,000, the No. 2 Longhorns are ready for their home opener Friday in the 26 West Longhorn Classic.
“We’re really hoping for a really big crowd for this weekend,” sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu said. “It’ll be exciting to show the fans how hard we’ve been working and what we’ve been doing in our gym every day.”
Texas (4-0) spent its first four games on the road, something head coach Jerritt Elliott believes will help the team when it travels during conference play and regionals. Elliott is ready to see how the team reacts at home, however.
“They get super pumped up [at home],” Elliott said. “Those emotions are different than when you’re on the road. I’m hoping they come out focused, but I’m hoping our crowd is behind them and can really give us that extra incentive [to win].”
The Longhorns have used their depth to their advantage so far this season. Ogbogu received Big 12 Player of the Week honors for her performance against Florida, where her 11 kills and a career-high nine blocks set the tone. Freshman libero Cat McCoy posted 20 digs. Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman, senior middle blocker Khat Bell and junior middle blocker Molly McCage have all also been key to Texas’ early season success.
“We’ve got great balance,” Elliott said. “I like our team spirit. I think we’re playing well together. The way they’re starting to gel is showing us that we have the potential to be pretty good by the end of the year.”
The team will be challenged Friday when they play No. 21 Arizona, who comes to Austin after starting 6-0.
“I’m excited to get tested again against Arizona,” Elliott said. “We still have so much room for improvement. They’ve got a very good team. They’re undefeated. It should be a good matchup for us, and, for me, I want to test our team.”
After Arizona, The Longhorns will take on Central Florida (6-1) and Florida A&M (0-5) in tournament play Saturday afternoon.
“I expect it to be sold out,” McCoy said. “I feel like there’s going to be a lot of high energy. I’m really excited to play in front of our home crowd for once.”