The Longhorns’ season narrative quickly changed Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas. Texas entered the Sunflower State with an unblemished conference record but did not leave unscathed.
The Jayhawks prevailed over Texas in five sets, giving senior setter Chloe Collins and the Longhorns the taste of defeat for the first time since they lost to No. 2 Wisconsin on Sept. 18.
“Personally, I came to Texas because I wanted to win and Texas has a winning tradition here,” Collins said. “There’s pressure with it, but at the same time I think it’s how we handle it and just knowing what we’re capable of not because we’re Texas, but the work we put into it.”
Needing to rebound, the Longhorns (17–3, 9–1 Big 12) face TCU on Wednesday. The Horned Frogs have struggled mightily since Texas recorded its first Big 12 sweep against them two weeks ago. TCU has since continued its losing streak, extending it from three matches to six.
Now, both TCU and Texas are coming off losses and hope to make up lost ground.
“We just have to keep the focus and not think about how we won last time,” senior outside hitter Paulina Prieto Cerame said. “Just seeing that they have made some changes and even if they haven’t, they know us more. So, we have to play harder and just play our game and keep the focus.”
Despite the loss to No. 4 Kansas, Texas showed promising numbers.
Texas still hones the fourth-best hitting percentage in the nation, with the first Big 12. Outside hitters Prieto Cerame, freshman Micaya White and junior Ebony Nwanebu all blasted double-digit kills against the Jayhawks.
For TCU, senior middle blockers Regan McGuire and Natalie Gower still boast the biggest threat to the Texas defense. The two rank No. 4 and No. 7 in the conference in kill percentage, respectively.
However, at times Texas’ biggest threat has been itself. The Longhorns missed 11 serves against Kansas and averaged a lower hitting percentage of 21.7 percent compared to their overall season percentage of 30 percent.
The errors have forced the Longhorns to focus on sound fundamentals.
“We just say this every time, ‘We gotta take care of business, we gotta take care of business, no upsets,’” Prieto Cerame said. “And that’s something we have on our backs that most people don’t.”
Texas and TCU begin play at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in Fort Worth.