An excerpt from Texas’ fight song reads “goodbye to A&M,” and the Longhorns quickly discarded their old rival on Wednesday.
No. 2 Texas swept No. 16 Texas A&M at Gregory Gym, extending its win streak to seven.
“I just thought it was a great feeling that our fans came out tonight,” senior setter Chloe Collins said. “They showed their support, and it shows how much the rivalry [means] to our university … [Texas A&M] is always a great team, and it’s always nice to come out with a W.”
In the rivalry’s first match since December 2013, Texas employed powerful kills to defeat the visiting Aggies. Senior outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame crashed the net to lead Texas to its 18th-straight home victory. She added 16 kills on the evening.
“It’s all in the timing,” Prieto Cerame said. “I’ve been working on it with my coaches — just making sure that I’m driving hard every time.”
Freshman outside hitter Micaya White and junior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu were also instrumental in guiding Texas to its fifth sweep in six matches. The duo added 21 additional kills, along with five blocks.
The outside hitters benefited from the strong play of Collins, who compiled a game-high 35 assists.
“Paulina’s awesome,” Collins said. “She just brings a fire every time she’s on the court. We’ve been gelling well in practice and I think it definitely translated into the game tonight.”
The two rivals traded points to open the first set. No team scored consecutive points through the first 16 serves until Texas A&M claimed an early 9-8 lead. But a 7-3 Texas run sealed a four-point victory to claim the first frame. Service errors were a theme in the set — the Aggies produced four, while the Longhorns accounted for six.
A wire-to-wire finish separated the burnt orange from the maroon in the second set. Texas fired out to a 7-1 lead, increasing the deficit to as much as 10. The Longhorns produced 4-0 and 5-0 runs to pummel the Aggies 25-18. Freshman libero Autumn Rounsaville fueled the latter run, as Texas capitalized on a series of her serves to put the Aggies into a 0-2 hole.
“One thing I like about Autumn is she’s very steady and nothing phases her,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “She got it going there at the end of game two and game three.”
Texas A&M finally pushed ahead to start the third set. The Aggies relied on an early 5-0 spurt to place themselves in front 10-7. But the Longhorns quickly recuperated with four consecutive points. Texas then scored six straight points on five Rounsaville serves, proceeding to a 25-21 victory.
The Aggies are the highest-ranked team Texas has defeated this year. After sweeping their rival at home, the Longhorns look to continue their win streak on Sunday. The burnt orange will boast its home-court advantage at Gregory Gym against No. 6 Wisconsin.
“Gregory Gym is just amazing, and we feed off that,” Collins said. “It’s a hostile environment that we bring.”