Only 384 miles separate Texas and Texas Tech.
But so far in 2016, the two programs live on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of volleyball.
The No. 2 Longhorns (15–2, 7–0 Big 12) travel to Lubbock for a match against the Red Raiders (10–12, 0–7 Big 12) this weekend. The Red Raiders own the only losing record in the conference and have dropped 10 straight matches. The team has also been swept in its last six Big 12 contests.
“We got good teams [in our conference],” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “And good teams, when they play Texas, become great teams. This is their national championship game and the one they have circled on the calendar.”
The Longhorns enter the match with 10 consecutive sweeps over the Red Raiders going back to 2011. Texas defeated TCU 3-0 on Wednesday night, its first Big 12 sweep in seven matches this season.
“Our conference is getting tougher each year, so all the competition is pretty hard,” junior libero Cat McCoy said. “Getting a sweep shows a lot about how we’re growing as a team.”
Texas’ defense has improved by a wide margin in recent matches. McCoy leads the way, amassing 53 digs in the last three victories.
“We’ve been practicing so much on our defense, and it’s getting better,” Elliott said. “Sometimes the offense isn’t there and they make it up on the defensive side.”
Senior setter Chloe Collins has established herself as one of the team’s strongest two-way players. She posted a double-double in the Longhorns’ previous match against TCU, earning 37 assists and 15 digs in only three sets.
Despite a No. 2 ranking and undefeated conference record, Texas has yet to fix its most glaring issue: the service error. Texas consistently hands its opponents free points, especially in the last three games.
Luckily for Texas, the Longhorns have made up for their service errors with strong play on both sides of the net. But as the season winds down to NCAA Tournament play, it is a fault Texas must remedy before facing elite programs.
“We’re giving up, but we’re going on some runs too,” Elliott said. “I know we’re scoring some points from the serve too. With our defense we have to keep teams off the net and be at a good position.”
The Longhorns and Red Raiders begin play in Lubbock at 6 p.m. on Friday night.