The two matches against China’s Zhejiang club team came at the right time for the Texas volleyball.
After falling to rival Oklahoma at home for its first conference loss since 2012 and losing some of its momentum from a previously undefeated season, Texas rebounded with two wins this week over one of China’s best club volleyball teams.
“I think we did get better, and we tried some different lineups, and that’s good for us,” sophomore outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame said. “Some people got experience they weren’t able to do before, and it was a good learning experience, and we’re ready to go back to the Big 12.”
The No. 5 Longhorns return to their normal conference play in time to start the second half of the Big 12 season, beginning Sunday at Iowa State.
“With the loss, we’re now in a race with Oklahoma, and we’ve got to make sure there’s some urgency here,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said.
Before falling to Oklahoma, it had been 23 matches since the Longhorns had last lost a conference match. Since that last loss, which came at Iowa State, Texas won a national title and posted an undefeated conference record last year.
But the Oklahoma game has brought the team back to Earth. After posting 12 service errors, which got the ball rolling with other mistakes, Prieto Cerame said it was a learning experience for the team.
“It just showed us that, if you don’t show up, anybody can show up and beat you,” Prieto Cerame said.
Iowa State has struggled this season, though. After being picked to finish third in the Big 12, the Cyclones have only managed to pull together a 3-5 conference record, which includes road losses to Baylor and TCU. Iowa State ranks first in the conference in assists and digs but is at or near the bottom in almost every other statistical category.
Despite the struggles, Iowa State has played well at home in the Hilton Coliseum, posting a perfect 3-0 record in conference play. Elliott said the biggest reason Iowa State plays so tough against the Longhorns is because of the confidence the Cyclones have at home.
“They feel comfortable there,” Elliott said. “They’ve got a big crowd there, and when we go in there they’re probably going to have eight to 10 thousand people that are going to be yelling at us and get us off our game.”
With Texas no longer undefeated and having to fend off Oklahoma and Kansas State, which are both 6-2 in the Big 12, for the remaining eight conference games, Prieto Cerame said it’s just about discipline now.
“We have to focus in practices being good from the beginning to the end,” Prieto Cerame said. “That should also be in the games and not making dumb errors.”