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Tonight: Will Texas Volleyball secure the National Championship title?

HornSports Staff
HornSports Staff

Dec 16, 2022; Omaha, Nebraska, US; Texas Longhorns Molly Phillips (15) and Logan Eggleston (33) answers questions during the press conference the day before the championship match at the CHI Health Center. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The enduring strength of the Texas Volleyball program (27-1) will be tested tonight as they play for the championship a tenth time against a first time ACC program within reach of their first national title. Louisville (31-2), eager to break the ceiling in a new era for who can occupy prowess of the sport.

The historic game doesn’t end there. If Louisville were victorious, it would mark the first time a women head coach led a team to the national title. The Cardinal’s Dani Busboon Kelly, a former Nebraska volleyball player who was on the 2006 championship team, leads the team tonight and is no stranger to the big stage. She and Longhorn Head Coach, Jerritt Elliott, have met many times on the court. Kelly has faced the All-Big 12 Coach of the Year not only as player but as a coach at both Nebraska and Louisville. On the latter, her Louisville team sent Texas packing in the 2019 NCAA Regional Semifinal.

Statistically, the two teams hold the best winning percentage in DI volleyball over the past two seasons with the Longhorns at .947 (54-3) and Cardinals at .955 (63-3). Offensively, the Longhorn attack squad is impossible to dismiss. Led by recently named AVCA National Player of the Year, and three time AVCA First Team All American and All Big 12 Player of the Year, outside hitter Logan Eggleston, she is among a cluster of stars at the net including 2022 AVCA All Americans Madisen Skinner (OH), Asjia O’Neal (MB) and Molly Phillips (OH). But they are only as good as their quarterback, All Big 12 Setter of the Year and AVCA All American, Saige Ka’aha’aina-Torres, who effectively manages the offensive strategy on the court as the catalyst to the team earning the nation’s top hitting percentage .335 by producing an average 11.31 assists per set.

Louisville’s offense is led by AVCA First Team All American outside hitter, Claire Chaussee, and is in good company with Elena Scott, libero and AVCA Second Team All American, as well as AVCA All American’s middle blocker, Amaya Tillman, and setter, Raquel Lazaro.

However, the crown may come down to the most error-free team and who is best defending the back court and dominating the service line. While Texas started the postseason with a fierce service game (38 aces in first four matches), that was elusive against San Diego in the semifinal with only three. Moreover, they had a postseason high 23 errors, tying their previous season high against Minnesota. For Louisville, their service game all but secured their win over Pitt with 10 aces, including eight consecutive points in the vital fifth game against the Panthers to advance to the championship round. Longhorn Zoe Fleck, twice named First Team AVCA All American and the 2022 All-Big 12 Libero of the Year, will no doubt be Texas’ defensive weapon but tested on this crucial front. But, the Cardinals have battled postseason errors, too, with 23 and 20 in their last two postseason matches, respectively.

At 7PM CST tonight, either the #1 ranked and seeded Texas Longhorns or the #1 seeded and #4 ranked Louisville Cardinals will leave Omaha as the 2022 National Champions.

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