Photo: © Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK
Tonight the defending champion #7 Texas Longhorns more closely resembled their 2022 synergistic team that allowed them to dominate across positions. The 3-1 victory over #5 Minnesota wasn’t easy with the Gophers home court advantage where they just secured two easy wins over Big 12 competitors. Moreover, the cloud that potentially lingered over the Longhorns following an unexpected loss, knocking them down from #1 to #7 in the NCAA rankings.
Given the performance produced by Texas that resulted in defeat by an unranked opponent in their season opener, this was an unexpected but welcomed showing for fans. Asjia O’Neal (MB), back in the lineup for Texas, made it clear she is a pivotal player not only on the court but as a natural leader for her squad - leading her team in blocks (8). Running strong on all cylinders, the Longhorns amassed 55 kills, with Madisen Skinner (OH) leading the pack (16) followed closely behind by Minnesota transfer, Jenna Wenaas (OH-13). The team’s hitting efficiency was 0.234, besting the Gopher’s 0.156. While Skinner was the offensive leader, Bella Bergmark (MB) and O’Neal were both killing at nearly 50% of their attempts. Freshman setter, Ella Swindle, was also impressive, completing 42 assists, hit 0.500 and led with four of the team’s 10 aces. The offense wouldn’t have been as successful without the defense provided by freshman libero, Emma Halter, raking in 19 digs adding to a team total of 66.
The Longhorns have just a few days before they face perennial powerhouse #2 Stanford at Gregory Gym where they will be tested by a seasoned team that is expected to be a national title contender this December.