WACO — For the third time in the last four matches, the No. 3 Longhorns found themselves in trouble after the first set.
The upset-minded Baylor Bears (14-15, 4-10) held the Longhorns to a .136 hitting percentage while drilling 16 kills in the process.
But, as they had at Oklahoma and at home against Kansas State, Texas took the momentum back with a big second set and held off the Bears in a 3-1 win at the Ferrell Center on Wednesday night.
“We came out sluggish,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “I thought we did a good job blocking and giving ourselves a chance and had some players really step up tonight.”
The Longhorns (21-1, 13-1 Big 12) came out flat in the first set. After tying the match at 9, Texas allowed Baylor to take control of the match with back-to-back attack errors to give the Bears a 12-9 lead. Baylor took full advantage of the opportunity, going on a 5-0 run later to take a 19-12 lead, finishing off the set with a 25-21 win.
Elliott said that they have to improve their mentality and routines in order to reverse the first set trend.
“We’ve got to understand that teams are going to come out and play well,” Elliott said. “We’ve got to not get back on our heels.”
Texas came out in the second set on a mission, looking to regain the momentum. After another back-and-forth start to the set, the Longhorns took control of the match with a 10-3 run, caused by three kills by junior middle blocker Molly McCage and four attack errors by the Bears.
“It was a big move for us,” senior outside hitter Khat Bell said. “It showed courage, and it showed how much trust we have within our team.”
The Longhorns continued that dominance into the third set. Coming out of the intermission, Texas jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, then built upon it a little later with a 3-0 run to take a 13-6 lead in the set. Sophomore middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu finished off the set with kills in two of the last three points as the Longhorns took a 2-1 lead in the match.
Texas finished out the match with a fourth set similar to the previous two. The Longhorns jumped out to a 10-6 lead, forcing a Baylor timeout, and never looked back, winning the set 25-19.
Bell led the Longhorns with 14 kills while Ogbogu finished with 11 kills. The Texas block also had a big night with 16 total blocks.
Bell said they’re going to have to work on coming out stronger in the first set during those three matches before the NCAA tournament begins.
“It’s mine and Haley [Eckerman’s] last go around, so we have to start strong and finish strong,” Bell said.