Texas’ Sweet 16 match against the Michigan Wolverines can be best described in three different acts: A blowout, two marathons and one final closeout.
The Longhorns won the match by scores of 25-10, 27-29, 29-27, and 25-19 on Friday afternoon in Provo, Utah.
In the first set, Michigan struggled to put up a fight, allowing the Longhorns to score the first 10 points of the game en route to a dominate performance in the early goings of the match. The serving game, the defense, and the passing all highlighted an impressive opening frame.
However, the tide began to shift late in the second set as Texas gave up a 20-17 lead behind errors and strong play at the net by the Wolverines. They would go on to lose 27-29, the largest combined point total of any set this season for the Longhorns.
“I think we started out really strong,” outside hitter Logan Eggleston said. “We knew they were going to come back in the second set because they aren’t the kind of team to just fall back and let another team roll over them. I thought we did a really great job of continuing to fight and push all the way until the end.”
In the third set, it was time for the Longhorns to make a comeback. With Michigan up late in the set, a charge by the hard-swinging offense leveled the set at 23 points apiece. The Longhorns had not led in the set since the 9-8 mark. But after weathering three straight Michigan set points, Texas took advantage of the opportunity, winning its first set point to take the third set 29-27.
“We just started executing,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “It was really a serve and pass game, and they had us on our heels. We finally were able to get a rhythm going serving wise and run our offense. When we are able to do that our offense is kicking on all cylinders.”
The final set was much more standard compared to the previous three. The Longhorns stole the frame after an early lead by Michigan and held momentum the rest of the way. The desire to finish out the set with a win was visible on the court.
“We just kept reiterating ‘don’t lose the fight we had in the third set,’” middle blocker Morgan Johnson said. “Of course they are going to take the lead. They are a great team, so we weren’t expecting to just roll over them the way we did in the first set. We knew if we kept pounding away we were going to get a breakthrough.”
The team played BYU this past Saturday, with BYU having home-field advantage during the Regional. Before the game, Coach Elliott spoke about what he expected from the competition.
“It doesn’t really matter to me,” Elliott said. “We’ve got our game and we are expecting BYU to win their game. Right now we just have to figure out what our game plan is, execute, and if that’s who we play, then we gotta deal with the crowd and that’s the fun part about college athletics.”
The Longhorns lost 3-1 against BYU Saturday night at Provo, Utah.