It didn’t take long for Texas’ freshmen to burst onto the scene.
By the end of Friday’s match, freshmen led No. 3 Texas on the box score in kills, digs and blocks. The result? A four-set win (25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18) over No. 18 Oregon.
“I like the atmosphere,” freshman outside hitter Katarina Luketic said. “(I like) the fact that we play for not ourselves but each other on the court.”
The Longhorns had their way through the first set, but found themselves in a six-point hole late in the second frame. That’s when the tides turned in Texas’ favor.
A 10-2 run to close the set, courtesy of kills from junior outside hitter Micaya White and Luketic, gave Texas the set and control of the match. For the Longhorns’ young core, this was a much needed gut check.
“At practice we always go through this (situation),” Luketic said. “I didn’t think for a second (when we were down) that we would lose.”
After dropping the third set, Texas took an early lead in the fourth frame and didn’t look back. A couple of strong defensive plays at the net forced Oregon attacking errors and sealed the match.
This gave Texas (1–0) both its first win of the season, a win over a ranked opponent and a packed stat sheet to go along with it.
Luketic led Texas’ attack with 14 kills. Freshman outside hitter Logan Eggleston and junior outside hitter Micaya White added another 13 kills apiece on the offensive end of the box score. On the other end, freshman libero Sydney Petersen led all players with 14 digs.
Uncharacteristic of previous years, freshmen played a big part in Texas’ win on all fronts. For many players, today’s match was their first game in the burnt orange. This lack of experience didn’t faze anyone — not even Luketic. It’s been all hands on deck for Luketic, a late addition to the freshman class, from the moment she stepped off the plane in Austin.
Luketic, a native of Zagreb, Croatia, played alongside the Croatian National Team for nearly two years before joining the Longhorns in August. Luketic also brings unique experience to the team, having competed in four different competitions including the European Championship.
“Everybody has a lot of patience for me because American volleyball is different than European (volleyball),” Luketic said. “(Regardless,) I have experience before playing big matches so I don’t think that (game) was nerve-racking for me … it was a very enjoyable experience.”
Texas won’t have a lot of time to revel on today’s victory. The Longhorns face a quick turnaround against No. 7 Florida, a team they lost to in last season’s opener. First serve is set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday.