Last December, Texas walked off the floor in defeat at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Now 10 months later, the Longhorns suffered the same result — and it wasn’t close.
The No. 2 Cardinal started off hot and kept it going throughout the match, claiming all three sets (15-25, 22-25, 30-32) over No. 3 Texas.
Stanford started off the first set strong, nabbing the first eight points to keep Texas playing from behind for the rest of it. The Longhorns’ defense provided little resistance as Stanford cruised to a quick first set victory.
Texas found its rhythm in the second set, going point-for-point with Stanford through the majority of the frame. Junior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer led the charge for the Cardinal, notching five of her team-high 13 kills in the set to push Texas to the edge.
Plummer, along with the rest of the Cardinal, boasts something that Texas lacks: length. At 6-foot-6-inches, she is the tallest player on the court and has the ability to rise over blockers and place the ball anywhere on the court. Overall, Stanford is one of the tallest teams in the country and having players like Plummer and junior outside hitter Audriana Fitzmorris gives the Cardinal an enormous advantage.
Their athleticism proved pivotal in the third set, in which both teams had over three set points to settle the game. The set turned in Stanford’s favor thanks to the one-two punch of Plummer and Fitzmorris despite Texas’ 30-29 advantage.
And the Longhorns didn’t help themselves either. They had more attacking errors and service errors, which squashed the momentum they had built up. In addition, Texas was outblocked 16-6 at the net, in part due to Stanford’s size. This proved pivotal toward the end of the match as attacks by players like redshirt freshman middle blocker Brionne Butler and junior outside hitter Micaya White didn’t make it past the net in set point situations.
While Texas fought and improved as the match went on, Tuesday’s bout with Stanford will still go down as a loss. This is the Longhorns’ second loss of the season and their second to a top-10 team.
On Texas’ side, its usual suspects — White, Butler and freshman outside hitter Logan Eggleston — led the way with 9, 11 and 7 kills, respectively. On the defensive side of things, White, sophomore setter Ashley Shook, and junior libero Claire Hahn each tallied seven digs each.
After both teams played in what was a sparsely populated arena on Tuesday, they’ll return home to a more raucous environment at Gregory Gym. For most Stanford players, this will be their first time playing on the 40 Acres.
“I think we’re excited for that environment … we need that,” Fitzmorris told Pac-12 Network postgame. “We need to play in those types of environments and see how we react.”
Round two of the home-and-home with Stanford continues this Friday at Gregory Gym, as Texas will look to bounce back behind its home crowd. The first serve is set for 8 p.m.