Central Florida

Senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman recorded eight kills and a season-high four service aces against Arizona on Friday. Texas also downed Central Florida and Florida A&M at home Saturday.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

In front of a raucous crowd, No. 2 Texas (7-0) rolled past its competition in its home opening tournament this past weekend.

The Longhorns dominated throughout the tournament, beating No. 21 Arizona, Central Florida and Florida A&M.

“I thought we did a really nice job — we played hard,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We had some really good stretches and a lot of good things to build off of. A lot of players got some playing time. We can evaluate some more in terms of our personnel, so we are excited about it.”

The Longhorns opened the tournament with a sweep against No. 21 Arizona (25-19, 25-21, 25-20). Texas seemed jittery in its home opener, letting the Wildcats keep the first and second sets close. But the Longhorns proved to be too much for Arizona to handle, as they recorded 36 kills and 10 blocks.

Senior middle blocker Khat Bell and senior outside hitter Haley Eckerman led the team with eight kills each. Eckerman also recorded a season-high four service aces. Junior middle blocker Molly McCage led the Longhorns with six blocks.

Although Texas made mistakes early on that kept Arizona in the match, Elliott said he liked the team’s response.

“We didn’t get rattled, and that’s a really good sign for me,” Elliott said. “We had a couple of opportunities to really blow this thing wide open. But overall, first time at home and getting used to this environment, it’s going to happen. But we are still early in the season.”

Texas’ win against the Wildcats marked the Longhorns’ second straight win over a ranked opponent.

“It gives us confidence,” McCage said. “Our mentality is still one game at a time. But I think that we have things to work on, so it’s nice to have this under our belt right now, but we’re still working hard.”

Texas carried over its momentum from Friday night to Saturday as it kept its undefeated record intact with sweeps over Central Florida (25-17, 26-24, 25-9) and Florida A&M (25-18, 25-20, 25-13).

Junior outside hitter Amy Neal led the team with 17 kills and 15 digs. Neal’s second-day performance earned her tournament MVP honors. Alongside Neal, Eckerman recorded 14 kills and six aces, sophomore setter Chloe Collins had 40 assists and junior middle blocker Sara Hattis had nine blocks.

After a well-played weekend, the Longhorns will now direct their focus to their match against No. 12 Nebraska on Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

Freshman forward Olivia Brook became the first Texas freshman to score five goals in her first five career matches.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The women’s soccer team (4-0-2) will continue its trend of playing at America’s finest beach towns this weekend at the USF Soccer Classic in Tampa, Florida. The Longhorns will take on two tough opponents — Central Florida (3-2-0) at 3:30 p.m. Friday and South Florida (3-2-1) at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Texas has gone all over the U.S. so far this season, beginning with a trip to Hawaii, defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last weekend and going to southern Florida this weekend. 

“We’ve played — I’m not even sure how many — different conferences in different time zones,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “We’re here to put Texas on the map.”

The Longhorns have serious business to take care of this weekend, which will cut into any potential beach time. Central Florida was ranked No. 17 last week with its only loss coming against No. 12 Texas A&M, but a 1-0 loss to an unranked Georgia team Sunday dropped the Knights out of the top 25.

South Florida was shut out twice in its first three games of the season, but the Bulls have rebounded since then and are in the midst of a three game-winning streak.

Texas should have no problem facing the challenge. The Longhorns are undefeated through six games for just the second time in program history, and their offense has gotten a huge boost from one of its newcomers.

Freshman forward Olivia Brook has been the focal point of the Longhorn attack and recently became the first freshman in program history to score five goals in the first five matches of her career. The attacker’s efforts earned her the title of Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Week.

“She’s been terrific for our program at the beginning of her freshman year,” Kelly said. “She’s a sponge tactically, is always well-prepared and is the epitome of hard work through demonstrating 100 percent effort in training and preparation each day.”

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Just a little more than two weeks ago, this game looked like it would be a blowout. The Bears were ranked higher than they ever had and had legitimitate national championship aspirations while the Longhorns were languishing in the realm of the unranked. But things change fast in college football. These two teams are now trending in opposite directions. Texas is coming off one of their best wins of the season, a 41-16 beatdown of Texas Tech. The Bears, on the other hand, look lost. After getting embarrassed by Oklahoma State, Baylor struggled heavily against a bad TCU team, winning by only three points. To make matters worse, their star safety, Ahmad Dixon, got ejected for targeting in the second half meaning he will miss the first half of this game. There is so much
talent on this Baylor team, and they should still be able to win at home, but I don’t think they can be trusted to cover such a large point spread. If Texas can get running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron going like they did against Texas Tech, it should be able to stay in the game and at least cover the spread.

Texas (+14) at Baylor

 

Lock of the Week

Central Florida (-7) at SMU

The Mustangs are fighting for bowl eligibility, but the Golden Knights are fighting to secure a spot in the BCS. Starting SMU quarterback and former Longhorn Garrett Gilbert’s status is questionable due to a knee injury. If he can’t play, or if he plays but isn’t feeling right, things could get ugly for the Mustangs.

 

Upset Alert

Ohio St. vs Mich. St. (+5.5)

If I had a vote in the coaches’ poll, Ohio State would not be my No. 2. Where is there an impressive win? To date, the Buckeyes’ best victory has been a seven-point win at home against a currently unranked Wisconsin team that just lost to Penn State. The Buckeyes were lucky to get past a five-loss Michigan team last week. Michigan State has played a similar level of competition but has looked impressive doing so. The Spartans have held six teams to less than 10 points, including holding Michigan, who scored 41 points against Ohio State last week, to six points. Michigan State is, by far, the best team Ohio State has faced this season. If the Buckeyes play like they did last week, their national championship hopes will be dashed.

 

Darren’s record: 15-18 (.455)

Last week: 1-2

Last week, in the culmination of a days-old face-off, UT lost to the University of Central Florida in a National Collegiate Showdown. What exactly was said showdown over? It’s hard to say — the desire for free merchandise, partly, but also social media prowess, school spirit and the willingness of students to spread a message. 

The event involved neither athletic nor academic competitions, but rather a series of battles waged on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, all based around who could share the most social media that referenced the competition and its sponsor, Pink, a brand imprint of Victoria’s Secret that produces underwear and clothing marketed to young women. Colleges were progressively eliminated from the showdown based on the number of participants sharing or not sharing brand-referencing material, with the promise of “the ultimate campus party,” to be put on by Victoria’s Secret for the winning school.

In the end, the University of Central Florida killed us in the “tweet race,” despite the many Twitter users who tweeted using the hashtag “#UTexasPINKParty.” Maybe it’s for the best: Off-campus entities are not allowed to put on events with registered student organizations, a rule which extends to faculty and staff organizations as well — and it’s hard to imagine faculty council voting in favor of a 40 Acres-wide party aimed at selling students underwear. So even though this “ultimate campus party” didn’t even have a chance of occurring on campus, the campaign to win it garnered over 500,000 “#UTexas” hashtagged tweets. 

All those tweets raise a question: Why were so many UT students willing to tie up not just their Twitter feeds but also their social media profiles and their school’s reputation with a clothing company that sells candy-colored underwear and sparkly lip gloss? 

The answer, partly, is that Victoria’s Secret is one of many corporations meeting college students where they are: on campus and on social media. Victoria’s Secret Pink has at least two on-campus brand representatives who promote the company’s products and plan off-campus events. Other brands with similar programs include Red Bull, whose “Red Bull University” program aims to get college students hooked on the drink by recruiting student brand managers. Red Bull’s student brand managers get paid, which is often the case with these types of positions. They also receive free merchandise, such as a Red Bull-themed refrigerator and all the Red Bull necessary to fill it, and they get entry-level experience in sales and marketing. 

But corporations are trying to recruit brand managers by promising them more than just money and swag. Red Bull lists one of the perks of being a brand manager as “possibly becoming the most popular person on campus,” the idea being that students who are excited not just about selling the product but also about the idea of the product and the lifestyle it suggests will be better promoters. Disturbingly, marketing professionals often describe campus brand managers as “brand evangelists,” suggesting that students aren’t being hired just to push products but also to push beliefs. 

Admittedly, I don’t like Victoria’s Secret’s products or brand messaging, but my frustration with our almost-win in the Victoria’s Secret Pink Collegiate Showdown is less about the brand and more about the principle. 

Universities all over the nation have Victoria’s Secret marketing representatives, and whether or not we throw a giant party on our campus, that company and others will continue to market to UT students. What we do have at UT are our own social traditions and our set of campus values, defined — without the help of a corporation — by the history of our campus and of our state. When marketers lump us into an age group, putting UT in the same group as Rutgers, University of Central Florida and Purdue (the other “final four” schools involved in the competition), they reduce us to consumers to be marketed to. It’s reasonable for them to do so, but when we willingly participate in their schemes, we round the corners of our regional idiosyncrasies and rob ourselves of the little things that make use worth cheering for over the other team. 

Not to mention, we get roped into buying uncomfortable underwear. 

Wright is a Plan II junior from San Antonio.