Horns take on Baylor with conference lead

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Khat Bell (1), Sha’Dare McNeal (14) and Bailey Webster (23) are vital players for the Longhorns, who hold an 8-0 Big 12 record.
Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Two months into the season, head coach Jerritt Elliott already has the team with the best record in the Big 12, a school record for consecutive conference wins at home and a 10-game winning streak.

That doesn’t mean he’s allowing recent success to taint his strategy for the season. It also doesn’t mean he’s letting up on his players.

“Our team continues to battle, and it’s a difficult time of year,” Elliott said. “The second half of the Big 12 is going to be a tough half for us. We’re on the road for some tough matches.”

Tough schedule aside, Elliott said he’s been consistently pleased with the demeanor of the team.

“I’ve been very proud of our emotional stability and how we’ve been able to perform,” he said. “We were tested on Wednesday night against Iowa State, but we came out of the break, and I thought we played our best volleyball of the season. We know we have that potential.”

After storming back against Iowa State after a two-set deficit, the Longhorns rallied to win the last three sets, earning them a victory and a lesson in the value of keeping calm and strategizing necessary actions to take back a game.

“Our team got focused,” Elliott said. “We had a good talk in the locker room, and in the end it’s the players that are going to make the adjustments. There was a different look in their eye. The confidence was there.”

That confidence will continue as the Longhorns take on Baylor Wednesday night at Gregory Gym. The Bears are 16-7 (3-5) and coming off of wins against West Virginia and TCU. They currently rank sixth in the Big 12 Conference.

Despite beating Baylor, 3-0, earlier this season, Elliott said his players will still fight for a win the second time.

“It’s always tougher to play an opponent the second time, because they’re more familiar with you,” he said. “They’re obviously going to be fired up to play us, because it’s an in-state rivalry. We’ll play to our strength areas and continue to progress in the areas that we want to progress.”

Beating Baylor will allow the 16-3 Longhorns to lay another brick on the path to the NCAA tournament.