No. 5 Texas took a big step against Baylor early just under a month ago.
The Longhorns trace their defensive progress back to the game in Waco on Oct. 12, where they notched 16 total team blocks and limited the Bears to a 13.6 hitting percentage in a 3–1 win. Every player added to the total digs count of 57, an area of weakness for the team this season.
“Coming off of Baylor, I think we grew as far as team chemistry and coming together,” senior setter Chloe Collins said.
Texas enters the match coming off a road victory against TCU and a loss to Kansas. Despite the loss, the team still believes they have made positive strides in recent weeks.
“Losses are part of it,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It’s not football, so you can survive a couple losses and it’s how you respond across the country people are losing. We try to look at that as a learning curve.”
Now, Texas (18–3, 10–1) looks to replicate its October performance against Baylor at home on Wednesday.
Texas boasts three of the strongest outside hitters in the Big 12. Freshman outside hitter Micaya White stands at No. 3 in kills per set, while junior Ebony Nwanebu and senior Paulina Prieto Cerame rank at No. 5 and No. 7, respectively.
Additionally, senior setter Chloe Collins is second in the Big 12 in assists and recorded her eighth double-double in sets and digs this season against Kansas.
Sophomore middle blocker Morgan Johnson — who ranks No. 6 in the conference in blocking — has led Texas’ effort to improve on the defensive end.
“We’re spending a lot of time on it,” Elliott said. “We’re looking at our blocking schemes and our blocking footwork.”
But the Longhorns must stop Baylor’s strongest hitter, redshirt junior outside hitter Katie Staiger. Staiger ranks No. 4 in the nation in kills per set. She was also named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week for the fifth time this season on Nov. 7. Staiger gave the Longhorns fits in their last meeting, recording 25 kills
“She’s going to get her kills,” Elliott said. “You look at her numbers all throughout the conference, she’s taking 50, 60, 70 swings a night. Hopefully, we can control it to a certain extent like we did last time and shut a lot of the other players down.”
The Longhorns look to return to the top of the Big 12 against the Bears at Gregory Gym on Wednesday at 7 p.m.